Carmel Valley student hopes to help others with new book ‘Baffle That Bully’
By Karen Billing
At only 10 years old, Chase Anichini has already had some hardships in life, overcoming some cruel bullying in a former school. The bright, charismatic and spunky Chase has taken those experiences and turned them into a book, “Baffle That Bully!” to help other kids face their bullies and regain their power and self-confidence.
“These tactics really worked and instead of just helping me, I decided I would help get rid of the bullies for everyone and the world would be happy,” said Chase, now a fourth grader at Torrey Hills Elementary School.
The bullying did not happen at Torrey Hills — the Anichinis moved to Carmel Valley over the Christmas break. Her mother, Amy Jones Anichini, who helped write the book, points out that the move wasn’t due to the bullies but simply one for convenience to be closer to work and the children’s activities.
“Chase has run into some challenges in her short little life and I don’t know what I would’ve done if it had been me,” Amy said. “Her dad and I are so extremely proud of her for taking all that was thrown her way, figuring out ways to deal with it and looking on the bright side…Instead of crumbling and melting, she just kept going.”
The book has been available in digital format on Kindle since September, but the paperback version was released a couple of weeks ago and is available on amazon.com.
With “Baffle That Bully!” Amy offers advice for parents and Chase shares simple steps for kids that she learned going through a horrible time at her former school.
“I was bullied by a bunch of guys and one girl, they were really mean to me,” said Chase. “I didn’t enjoy the days I went to school and it was hard to avoid them because they were in my class.”
With help from her parents and others, Chase tried a lot of different ways to combat her bullies but found methods that really worked. She would confuse them with kindness, compliment them or ask them “totally random questions” like “How’s your baseball team?”
“It took the fun out of it for them,” said Amy, noting that they had zeroed in on Chase as someone they could get a reaction out of. “She made the decision to deny them a reaction and pretend like it hadn’t even happened; it really turned the tables.”
The most important tool in her arsenal was the fact that Chase learned to smile and shake it off.
“Don’t take in everything everyone says,” Chase said sagely. “You’re not going to have a great life if you’re too sensitive and believe what everyone says.”
Chase said “Baffle That Bully!” is kind of like a story turned game manual.
“But it’s more fun than a game manual, I personally think game manuals are boring,” Chase said.
Chase developed the main character of Scarlett Jones to help readers through the scenarios and strategies in the book. Scarlett is “just a regular kid” with brown curly hair and freckles.
“One reason why they bully her is her shoes because she’s obsessed with the 1950s like me and she wears pink saddle shoes every day,” Chase said. “She wears weird clothes but really the reason she’s bullied doesn’t have to do with anything specific. They bully everyone but she just happens to be their main target. It’s not about the person who’s getting bullied, it’s about the bullies. They have something wrong going on, maybe something at home that they’re taking out on other people.”
The book has several sample scenarios and ways that a kid can work through them to take the power back. Tools Scarlett uses include those harmless “random” questions and compliments, smiling, taking a deep breath to calm down and not get angry or thinking about your favorite things.
“Think about snow, kittens, puppies, candy—picture something and really burn it into your brain. Think of drinking tons of soda but you don’t get sick and you don’t get fat or tons of lip gloss that’s free,” Chase said.
The book is truly a family affair — Chase’s older sister Jordan did the illustrations for the book and Chase colored them in. A lot of the distraction techniques used in the book also come from Chase’s dad Tom.
“Our family learned so much about emotional bullying going through this process,” said Amy. “The conclusion we came to as a family is just that you simply cannot control what other people say or do, all you can control is what you feel about what they do. It’s your choice. You make the choice that it’s an awesome day and no one is going to change that, you have to make the decision to be happy.”
While in the process of overcoming her bullies, Chase discovered her love of acting. It seems to come naturally to her and she said she feels “powerful” on the stage.
“I really love it, it’s so much fun. I like to be overdramatic,” Chase said.
Chase is currently staring as the main character Tina Denmark in The Coronado Playhouse’s “Ruthless the Musical,” which runs through March 3.
The play is a musical, comic spin of “The Bad Seed” and Chase takes on the role of a young girl who can be both sickly sweet and a bit sinister. Chase has enjoyed the professional atmosphere of working alongside adults and has used her experiences with bullies to help bring out her character.
She hopes to continue her acting career and has been going on auditions with San Diego Musical Theater and San Diego Junior Theater.
Looking ahead, Chase thinks there could be a possible companion piece for “Baffle That Bully” that deals with anger management and possibly an opportunity for Scarlett to field questions from readers online.
Chase, who has “a million gazillion food allergies,” also thinks she has a book in her about food allergy management for kids.
She hasn’t quite figured out the details but with Chase, there’s a strong possibility she will.
Find “Baffle That Bully!” at Amazon.com or BarnesandNoble.com.