From School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2-On the cover, bold black lines on an angry tomato-red background depict the scowling title character. Seeger sets the emotional tone from the very start: this is one mean bull. Front endpapers offer a clue to his behavior as readers see a larger, adult bull shout, "Go away!" The rejected little guy hangs his head, and, as many real-life bullies do, turns his hurt into anger. When he comes upon a group of animals who want to play, he puffs himself up in a near-identical pose to his adult counterpart and shouts, "No!" He proceeds to insult them with literal names ("CHICKEN!" "PIG!") that lend a bit of levity and humor to an otherwise serious story. With each insult, the bull's bravado makes him larger and larger, filling and then expanding outside the frame of the pages. Children will recognize and respond to this powerful visual depiction of rage. By the time he yells "YOU STINK!" at the skunk, only his two giant front hooves and enormous snout are visible. When the bull is finally forced to confront what he has become, viewers see him deflate like an overinflated balloon and become small. Again, Seeger lightens the mood with this touch of cartoon whimsy. Spare text and simple drawings allow the antibullying message to come across clearly without being heavy-handed or didactic. The arc of the bull's experience engenders discussion and encourages the quest for satisfying solutions.-Kiera Parrott, Darien Library, CTα(c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
*Starred Review* After a big bull tells him to go away, a little bull looks hurt and dejected. When a friendly rabbit, chicken, and turtle ask him if he wants to play, to each smaller animal, he bellows his answer (NO!). He grows larger (CHICKEN!), and LARGER (SLOWPOKE!) with each name he calls. After seven name-calling episodes, he has grown so enormous that only his hoof fits in the picture book. The tables are turned when a goat yells BULLY! Bully? asks the bull, looking hurt and insecure. Suddenly deflated, he apologizes to his friends and asks, Wanna play? Bold black lines and flat colors define the images of the animals, which stand out against the textured, ivory-toned backgrounds. Delivered in speech balloons, the only text is terse dialogue delivered in a font that grows larger as the bull roars louder. His ego deflates in an amusing, cartoonlike scene, showing him spinning like a punctured balloon. Perhaps the most unusual aspect of the book is the consideration of the bully’s point of view. Intelligently conceived and beautifully executed, this picture book is visually and verbally pared down to essentials, making it accessible to a wide age range. Yet for all its simplicity, this story opens up a number of complex issues for discussion. Preschool-Grade 3. --Carolyn Phelan