Children's Book Reviews

Book reviews by elementary school teachers Kate Glinsmann and Jennifer Sykes.
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Llama Llama and the Bully Goat by Anna Dewdney

llamaIf you aren’t familiar with Anna Dewdney’s Llama series, you are missing out!  My children, nieces, and nephews have all enjoyed Llama and his drama.  Each book highlights a common early childhood problem and, more importantly, how to resolve it.  My daughters especially enjoy Llama Llama Mad at Mama, featuring a very grumpy Llama who is none too pleased to head to the grocery story with his tired, overworked mother.  Sound familiar?

I was excited to see the newest book, Llama Llama and the Bully Goat, on the shelf, knowing it would also reliably showcase a common little kid problem and a peaceful resolution.  Schools today take an initiative to talk about bullying, how to avoid it (both as a target and as a perpetrator), and how to deal with it when you see it.  So it’s really nice to see this book offer a start to that discourse for preschoolers in an age-appropriate way.

Llama is at school with his many animal friends, and Gilroy the Bully Goat starts teasing multiple classmates and causing trouble.   He goes from distracting rudeness to downright meanness through the span of the school day, and Llama gets fed up.   First he tells Gilroy that it’s not okay and that he needs to stop.  Then he talks to a teacher, who promptly handles the situation.  Being that this is a simple story with a simple moral, Gilroy is quickly reformed, joins the group in a positive way, and ends up a friend to all.

Dewdney’s rhymes are always fun to read aloud to pre-readers, and they are full of simple language that makes for easy comprehension.  Her illustrations typically feature very expressive characters that kids can easily relate to visually.  Llama Llama and the Bully Goat is no excception.   The action builds in a familiar and realistic way, and we see consequences for Gilroy and an ending that leaves everyone happy.  Together, the story and pictures offer a comfortable segue to talk about feelings and a difficult situation that most kids have experienced first-hand.