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Bully

by Laura Vaccaro  Seeger

Published by A Neal Porter Book / Roaring Brook Press, 2013
32 pages
ISBN: 978-1-59643-630-5

Ages 3-7

Not a bully but a bull takes center stage in Laura Vaccaro Seeger’s visually eloquent look at name-calling and insults. “Go away!” a big bull tells a smaller one, the rejection unmistakable on the small bull’s face. When the small bull is then approached by a group of animals inviting him to play, he puffs himself up and says, “No!” But he doesn’t stop there. He calls the chicken a chicken. He calls the turtle a slow poke. He calls the pig a pig. His anger intensifies each time, and even though the words at face value are generally factual (a chicken is a chicken and a pig is a pig, after all), intent is everything here. When a billy goat counters with a name of his own for the bull, everything changes. “Bully!” Suddenly the bull, which had been growing larger with each insult he hurled, deflates. Despite its seemingly obvious message, Seeger’s book is leaves plenty of space for readers of the words and pictures to observe, reflect upon, and discuss the characters’ thoughts, feelings, and actions. The spare text is comprised only of the words the animals exchange, while the bold illustrations are simple in composition but complex in terms of gesture and feeling. (MS) ©2013 Cooperative Children’s Book Center


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