Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Haunted Bakery

Why do bullies bully others?

Children's adventure story for ages 5-12 by Erika M Szabo & Becky Robbins

According to the hundred-year-old legend, children disappeared in Seven Pines every year to never be found again. People suspected that the old bakery in the woods was under the spell of evil forces and warned their children not to go near the old building.
Best friends Albert and Timmy were mean bullies and nobody liked them. One day a group of children that were fed up with the daily torture of name calling and pushing and shoving, dared them to go into the old building at night to see if it's really haunted. Albert accepted the dare and although Timmy had his doubts, he went along with his best friend.
What will they find in the old bakery?
Is the legend true and they will disappear forever as many children did who had entered the building?

When a legend becomes a children's book

The Haunted Bakery is a part of Becky's childhood, she lived in the small town of Seven Pines Virginia where The Battle of Seven Pines was fought. Deep in the woods stood an old building built of stone and brick and in the basement, there were old brick ovens. People assumed it was an old bakery during the Civil War. Children dared each other to go into the building at night and scared each other with the legend that was told in every generation.

Becky had the rough outline of a story of two boys who went into the bakery at night, on a dare. When Becky showed me the rough manuscript, I accepted the challenge of making the sketchy ideas into a great story together with Becky.

Books by Becky Robbins on AMAZON
Books by Erika M Szabo on AMAZON

When I was a young child, probably in 2nd or 3rd grade, there was a boy in my class who relentlessly bullied smaller kids. He called them nasty names, punched and tripped them, and he always found something to tease them about.

He tried to bully me once by shouting in front of everyone in the class, "She has freckles because the cat pooped into the fan and sprayed poop spots all over her face."

I got so angry that without thinking, I punched him in the face. He cried like a baby holding his bloody nose, and of course, I was punished. That was the only time when I used violence. My dad taught me to fight my battles with my words and not with my fist.

Shortly after this incident, the bully's father went to jail for beating his wife and two children close to death. Did this boy become a brutal bully because he was bullied and beaten at home? Why do bullies bully others?

Click and read a short excerpt from the book

EBOOK in several digital stores

The print is available for schools, libraries, and bookstores with returnability option from Ingram.
The Haunted Bakery of Seven Pines
ISBN-13: 978-1-943962-52-5
ISBN-10: 1-943962-52-9

A review that summarizes the moral of the story perfectly:

5.0 out of 5 stars
This is a fun story that teaches an important lesson. June 30, 2018

This is an important book. The fact that it's a fun story with lovely illustrations is just a bonus. It's obvious that the central theme of this story is bullying but there's more to it than that. While the main characters of the story are, Albert and Timmy, two school bullies, there are other characters in the story who could also be considered bullies as well. Plus, there's also a witch worth mentioning.

At the beginning of the story, we see Albert and Timmy bullying the other kids, but it's pretty clear that this isn't a behavior that they do simply out of spite. Both boys have experienced some form of bullying themselves in the past and therefore they’re simply ‘beating the other kids at their own game.’ I think this is a wonderful dynamic to explore in children's fiction. I think it's a good idea to explore in any type of fiction. I think too often people feel that a bully is just a bully, but often there's more to the story. And then there's the evil witch. Perhaps there's more to her story as well.

While the action of the story begins with a dare that sends Albert and Timmy on their adventure into the haunted bakery, there are underlying tones to the story that you might miss if you don't pay really close attention. To young readers, the fun, mystery, and adventure of the story will pull them in, along with the colorful images, but adults will appreciate the other significances of the story, hopefully prompting them to discuss them with the young readers.

Aside from the central theme of bullying, the story also touches on aspects of: asking and seeking help from others, accepting help from others, accepting others as they are and for their differences, and even acknowledging the changes in times. Considering the social climate of modern times, being able to look back at the past and see how things have changed and or improved is important. I feel more people should take time to look at the past for improvements while continuing to strive for even better in the future.

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