Llama Llama and the Bully Goat

Review by Kim Higginson, Information Management Specialist, MHF

Anna Dewdney (2013). Penguin Putnam Inc, US

Anna Dewdney was a bestselling author before her death in 2016, publishing over 12 million copies of her kids book series following the main character Llama as he grows up. In Llama Llama and the Bully
Goat she tackles the sensitive subject of bullying with some very practical advice.

The age of the characters and the rhyming format makes it more geared to a younger preschool or early primary school age. Though I am sure most senior primary school kids throughout NZ would recognise the advice given, my son's primary school has STOP-WALK-TALK banners in the playground.

Gilroy the Goat starts teasing kids in class and despite being told by his teacher that is not okay, he persists with bullying kids in the playground as well. As there are clear rules in place, reinforced by the school's teachers, Llama Llama and his friend feel comfortable to stand together and make it clear to Gilroy that his behaviour is not okay and they tell a teacher.

I like that when Gilroy sits in time out he has the support of the teacher with him (knitting), so he is not isolated but given time to reflect on his actions. I think this book’s strength is its simplicity, catchy rhyme, the familiar school setting and that it gives clear advice - speak up and get support.

My boy is too old now but I see Llama Llama is now available as a series on Netflix. It might be worth a watch for young ones as Dewdney's stories also touch on emotions and friendships. Her website also has resources for teachers covering these topics in modules.

The Mental Health Foundation’s Information Service brings you reviews this Pink Shirt Day on books with bullying prevention themes.

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“Kōrero Mai, Kōrero Atu, Mauri Tū, Mauri Ora – Speak Up, Stand Together, Stop Bullying!”