Have a peek at the 60-second animated book trailer of What Happens Next.
Download these What Happens Next discussion guides for grades 1 - 3 and grades 4 - 6, written by Vicky Timmermanis, PhD, School and Clinical Child Psychologist, Toronto District School Board.
What Happens Next
What Happens Next is a raw, realistic story told by an unnamed protagonist who is made to feel different from everybody else—even invisible sometimes. Bullied by a girl at school, our narrator gives a terse script of the related facts (What Her Friends Do: Laugh. What Everyone Else Does: Nothing.) and emotions (How I Feel Sometimes: Bad. Really Bad.).
The narrator takes these hurt feelings home, where Mom listens and offers some ideas. At school the next day, the child confronts the bully by turning a “weirdo” fascination with science into an opportunity to find common ground, and maybe help the bully see the world in a new way.
Spare illustrations in a limited palette of blues and greens convey feeling alone even in the hustle and bustle of a crowded schoolyard. Graphic novel–style panels set a steady pace for the emotional impact of this important story that doesn’t simplify the realities of feeling like an outsider. It’s a powerful starting point for discussions of emotions, empathy, and how we relate to others.
Owlkids, March 2018
What the Reviewers Say
"A powerful reminder to children that even if we seem completely different, we have enormous commonalities that bind us." -School Library Journal, 2018
"At the urging of the child’s mother, the narrator responds to Bully B.’s cruelty with an anecdote about interconnectedness and the universe. Their moment of shared awe and common humanity results in a subtle change ... Hughes’s suggestion that reaching out to bullies can be more effective than standing up to them is a brave and big-hearted one." - Publishers Weekly, 2018
"This trenchant storytelling style is immediate and arresting. The staccato words capture both the sting of harsh actions and the matter-of-fact resignation that bullied children often feel. Sookocheff’s gray color palette with muted blues and greens intensifies the isolation. When the narrator does finally admit what is happening, Mom’s response is refreshing. ...Nothing is perfect; the two certainly don’t end up being best friends, but an understanding is reached. ...It’s impossible to find a solution that will solve every bullying situation, but empathy is always a fine place to start.” -Kirkus Review, 2018
"This book’s perfect, emotionally healthy message is expressed with enough precision that it might help a real child to be brave too; or, it might guide a parent’s successful intervention. I hope so. I’d encourage librarians to give their patrons the opportunity of reading this important book." -Helen Wilding Cook, Library Bound Inc.
"An innovative question-and-answer dialogue format and the subtle use of color to convey emotions impart a positive message perfect for children, teens, and families dealing with bullying who just might need a new way of looking that is hopeful, heartfelt, and honest." -Foreword Reviews
"What Happens Next is the type of picture book that comes along every now and then and stops you in your tracks. I was really impressed with the whole package – the unique telling of the story, as well as the design of the book... A truly multi-levelled story that will resonate with anyone who has been bullied, belittled or felt like an outsider.” - Maria Martella, Tinlids Inc.
"This title is not a cure-all, but it offers a starting point for an important talk in either a family or a classroom setting." - Booklist
“A simple, straightforward account of the way bullying takes place and an approach that puts the power in the children's hands. I think it will be a popular book and one that will give rise to lots of discussion.” - Leslie Buffam, Bookseller Vancouver Kidsbooks
"What Happens Next provides a great opportunity to support children’s social and emotional development. Discussion of topics in the book allows teachers to support their students in learning to identify and respond to bullying, as well as build empathy skills and understand how others feel." - Vicky Timmermanis, PhD Toronto District School Board