Ignore the Trolls

POW!. Oct. 2019. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781576879337.
Gr 2-4–Holly Hills is a fantasy kingdom populated with elves, mermaids, and centaurs, but it is made all too real when young Tim is harassed by trolls. The trolls verbally harass Tim when he falls at the jousting tournament. Tim’s trolls are green and have pig snouts and sharp teeth. However, the illustrations also depict the grungy green trolls holding devices that were perhaps manufactured in the Holly Hills equivalent of Apple’s Chinese factories, making the modern-day social media bullying allegory obvious if it weren’t already. The trolls share a picture of Tim with the school, ensuring the mocking continues into perpetuity. Tim becomes depressed until his classmate Bethany, herself a victim of trolling, explains to Tim that he can “ignore the trolls.” Tim does so, instantly succeeds, and then promises to support others who are being bullied. Prabhat’s illustrations are colorful and packed with personality, but page composition can be busy to the point of distraction. Gershowitz’s gentle reminder that individuals can still be terrific in the face of trolling is well meaning. But even with Tim’s pledge to support his peers, the book’s “ignore the trolls” message underestimates the crippling nature of being the victim of social media abuse and presumes an overly simple solution.
VERDICT Not recommended for children who still live in blissful ignorance of the bullying they can experience once their classmates are given smartphones. This title could open up a discussion with older readers.

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