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Animal Character, BOOK REVIEWS, Contemporary Realistic Fiction, Early/Young Readers, Humor, Picture Books, Read-Aloud Suggestions, Teacher & Parent Recommendations



Llama Llama, Bully Goat by Anna Dewdney

This is an excellent addition to Dewdney’s successful Llama, Llama series.  Baby llama has grown up with his readers, make him an excellent character to model successful anti-bully strategies for young readers.  This installment of the series is exactly on point for young readers pre-school through 2nd Grade in identifying inappropriate behavior and telling someone in charge.

When Gilroy Goat says and does hurtful things Llama clearly tells him to stop.  Gilroy does not stop.  Llama turns it over to his teacher.  She clearly identifies Gilroy’s inappropriately hurtful behavior and redirects him, while encouraging him to acknowledge and take responsibility both for what he has done and how to change his behavior going forward.

The piece I absolutely love is that the storyline also models forgiveness and giving an individual who has made a mistake another chance.

unicorn thinks he's pretty great

Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great by Bob Shea

Bob Shea is one of my favorite authors because his work so easily crosses age barriers.  His picture books are usually applicable to very young readers and to upper elementary ages.  I often use his work at the middle school, high school and adult level as well.

Unicorn Thinks He’s Pretty Great is unique in the “anti-bully”-themed literature in that it successfully addresses relational bullying.  Relational bullying is loosely defined as:

  • Leaving someone out on purpose
  • Telling other children not to be friends with someone
  • Spreading rumors about someone
  • Embarrassing someone in public

[from stopbullying.gov]

Having just kicked off an Anti-Bully Theatre Initiative in an elementary school with the Social Worker and Behavioral Specialist there (as well as my own experiences and those of my own elementary-aged children) it is evident that relational bullying is the most prevalent.  Because it is also the most difficult to define and identify it is less likely to be reported.

Unicorn is an excellent story about how we can feel jealous of someone based on things they can do (or have) which we somehow feel make us seem less because we can’t do(or don’t have) it.  This can be a talent, a skill, even a school assignment or project done especially well.

The feeling of enviousness itself is not necessarily “wrong” or “bad” but can lead us to make choices about our behavior–particularly in the area of relational bullying–that are inappropriate and hurtful. Shea’s fancifully illustrated story suggests through the character’s actions that when we get to know someone, talk with them we often find out things we did not know about that individual.  We find we may have misjudged.  We discover that individual has fears and insecurities about things he does not do as successfully as he would like. We gain the ability to celebrate what others are able to accomplish rather than constantly holding ourselves up in comparison.

If we never talk to or spend time with an individual, we miss an opportunity to make a good friend we would not have had otherwise.

Unicorn is a great discussion springboard for younger and older readers alike, often covering dynamics present in a particular classroom or home environment.


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