In B3 Goes to the Playground, readers meet B3, a superhero monkey who helps a group of young frogs learn to play together and exercise.
The book first introduces the Better Bodies Buddy, nicknamed B3. B3 is a superhero who searches for “children who dislike physical activity,” aiming to get them excited about exercise. When she spots a frog, EJ, alone on the playground, she learns that EJ is alienated from his class because two boys call him “Mr. Plump.” After some prodding, EJ reveals the bullies’ names, and EJ’s teacher leaves to reprimand the boys.
Meanwhile B3 introduces EJ to a version of Simon Says called “Monkey Says.” Through the game, EJ and a fellow classmate learn to do push-ups, squats, and other exercises. Soon, the two boys who teased EJ ask to join the fun. As the story concludes, the young frogs each share one lesson they learned that day, the bullies apologize, and they all become friends.
This book admirably encourages kids to share any bullying they may experience with adults and shows a positive resolution. The illustrations are colorful and well-suited to the text, and at book’s end, the author includes fun facts about monkeys and frogs, along with fun exercises kids can try.
A few problems exist, however. First, the narrative implies that while the bullies shouldn’t have teased EJ for being chubby, he really is overweight—and must exercise to change himself. The story would benefit by promoting body positivity instead and addressing the benefits of exercise beyond weight loss. Additionally, readers aren’t privy to the teachers’ talk with the two bullies, so when the two boys are suddenly friendly to EJ, their change of heart feels contrived. It would help to see how the teacher wins the bullies over.
Despite such flaws, the story features likable characters and a positive spin on physical activity. Many will find its message about bullies and active play helpful.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.