It’s always great to hear from younger readers, particularly if I have written a story about kids with problems and a young reader takes the time to write and tell me what they would do if the same thing that happened in the story  – happened to them.  The letter below came from a young girl who read, ‘The Tree Hugger.’

In ‘The Tree Hugger,’ a new girl called Shalmalah, arrives in Debbie’s school. Shalmalah is different from the other girls. She doesn’t even try or care about fitting in.  She seems to like being different. She wears the wrong clothes, eats the wrong food and even says the wrong thing in class. In fact everything about her is ‘uncool’ and soon the class bullies begin a nasty campaign against her – pushing her over, calling her dirty and starting rumours that she’s got hair lice.

kids stories, The Tree Hugger by Grace Jolliffe. Shalmalah gets eggs thrown at her.Most people in the class, including Debbie, are afraid of standing up to the bullies in case the bully’s turn on them as well but Debbie begins to feel guilty seeing Shalmalah left out and picked on is horrible to watch.

Even though she feels bad, she still decides not to do anything to help Shalmalah because she is too afraid of being bullied herself.

But she is forced to think again when she goes home and finds that her mother and Shalmalah’s mother have become friends.

Debbie is forced to make a choice – she can either do the right thing, risk being bullied but get rid of the guilty feeling and feel really good, or she can do nothing and end up still feeling guilty, and never being able to stand up for herself.

I won’t spoil the story by saying any more if you haven’t read it, but I will say how great it was to get the following letter from a very young and special reader called Izzy who told me how she would react if the same thing happened in her school.


Hi Grace,

I think Shal was a very different person but if she was in my world i would help her straight away . leonie and susan are very mean and will probably have no friends left. Pauline just told lots of lies she was funny. I like Debbie because she felt guilty at the end and realised you should always be your self and not follow the in crowd. 
I really enjoy your stories and i am looking forward to my nanny reading me the next oneThankyou

love Izzy x


Dear Izzy

Thank you for this lovely letter. I am so glad to hear that your Nanny read you this story and that you enjoyed it.  I was really happy to know that you would have helped Shalmalah. You are right about being yourself and not following the crowd. If everyone did that there sure would be a lot less bullying in the world.

I heard you made your communion and confirmation recently and that you had a lovely day. I wish you all the best and I hope your Nanny keeps reading you my stories and that you enjoy them.

Love Grace x




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