A boy and his dog deal with a sudden influx of bullying and bad-natured animal guests in the charming picture book A Bully-Bad Day.
The story’s protagonists, a young boy and his dog Stanley, hear strange sounds outside their window. They are then greeted by a fantastic, disturbing sight: a host of exotic creatures invading their home. The insulting, ill-mannered animals quickly take over the den, the bathtub, the kitchen, and play with anything they find, showing little respect for their hosts or their hosts’ property.
The boy wonders what to do, but after finding an old letter in the attic that offers advice, he asks for his family’s help. Soon, a crew from the City Zoo arrives and explains some reasons for bullying behavior, before taking the animals away for a happy, and better behaved, new start. The final page offers parents tips on how to help their children handle bullies.
The story is zany and entertaining, but the parallels to human bullies are easy to see, allowing kids to absorb the larger message about how to handle bullying. The book is written in simple, delightful rhyming verse; when the boy considers his options, he thinks: “Should we beg them to be nicer?/ …take them out to lunch?/ Should we give them gifts to stop this?/ Should we throw a punch?”
Although the story and writing are excellent, the book’s highlight is the artwork, which incorporates realistic portrayals of the boy, his family, and Stanley, along with enough cartoonish elements for the animals to show recognizable facial expressions. The parrots, rhinos, and other animals are colorful and carefully textured, and every page is packed with fun details, like a kangaroo marking the boy’s shirt with a crayon, or a bear using the family’s TV remote.
Filled with excellent rhythm, composition, and technique, A Bully-Bad Day provides a story and art that children will thoroughly enjoy.