Cover image for The buddy bench
The buddy bench
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 27 cm.
Added Author:
Having seen children being left out of joining the fun on the school playground, Miss Mellon's students convince her to let them build a buddy bench where their classmates can wait for a friend or a buddy to meet.


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A school playground can be a solitary place for a kid without playmates; in one survey, 80 percent of 8- to 10-year-old respondents described being lonely at some point during a school day. Patty Brozo's cast of kids brings a playground to raucous life, and Mike Deas's illustrations invest their games with imaginary planes to fly, dragons to tame, and elephants to ride. And these kids match their imaginations with empathy, identifying and swooping up the lonely among them.Buddy benches are appearing in schoolyards around the country. Introduced from Germany in 2014, the concept is simple: When a child sits on the bench, it's a signal to other kids to ask him or her to play.

Reviews 3

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2--This story shows a variety of children at recess who choose to stay on the sidelines until another child asks them to join the group. Gabe holds back because his leg is in a cast, Emma is self-conscious about her clothes, Sloan is shy, Cooper stutters, Lilly isn't good at games, Jerome feels small and unaccepted, and Will is new\\. Jake invites a child no one notices to play; this causes a ripple effect. This child invites another child on the outside of the group to join in. Lively and colorful cartoon illustrations work well with the text and encourage imagination and also help lighten the mood. After recess, the children approach the Buddy Bench in order to wordlessly express wanting to play when feeling sad, shy, or proud and not knowing how to join in. Two pages at the back of the book describe the history behind the Buddy Bench, suggestions for starting a Buddy Bench, and list resources for more information. VERDICT This is a must-have addition to school and public libraries. It promotes kindness and inclusion in a way that will appeal to children and can be used by teachers to promote emotional intelligence in their classes. --Robin Sofge, Prince William Public Library System, VA

Publisher's Weekly Review

Miss Mellon's class is eager for recess, but on the playground, some children are left out. "Molly said to Brianne, 'Let's play follow the leader.' They walked right by Emma but just didn't see her," writes Brozo. But kind individuals do notice their peers watching from the sidelines, and after a number of kids express anxieties (ranging from being new to having holey clothes), the students decide to make a "Buddy Bench," where classmates can sit to let others know that they want to make friends. Deas illustrates inky figures energetically engaged in playground activities, along with fantasy play characters (a pink dinosaur, a blue elephant). The students' self-guided innovation is idealistic, but kids who recognize themselves in the playground scenario may well take the sentiment to heart. Back matter offers context about the growth of buddy benches around the world. Ages 5--10. (Aug.)

Kirkus Review

A story inspired by a real-life effort to achieve social inclusion.Rhyming text enriched by energetic, cartoon-style illustrations follows the diverse students in Miss Mellon's class at recess. Most of the children dive into play with peers, but some feel timid or excluded. Those at play are initially oblivious to the discomfort of the others, but then a child named Jake notices someone using a crutch and hanging back from play. " It's my leg,' said Gabe. I can't run in a cast, / so I never get picked, not even last.' " Affable Jake responds, "Come play with us anyway. There's time to spare," causing Gabe to reply, "Wait a minute I'll be right there." This interaction creates a compassionate domino effect of inclusion, with Gabe reaching out to another kid on the sidelines, and so on. When the children (and, oddly, an elephant and dragon) go inside after recess they ask, "how could we say, / without using words, that we all want to play?" Miss Mellon says they need "a seat / to wait for a friend or a buddy to meet." It's unfortunate the solutionthe eponymous buddy benchoriginates with an adult rather than the compassionate children themselves, especially since the author's note reveals that it was a first grader who proposed the first one in the United States, but the generosity on display is heartening.Inviting. (Picture book. 5-7) Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.