Friday, July 5, 2013

Book Review: Big Bad Bruce by Bill Peet

Stars: 3 out of 5
Pros: Bill Peet's illustrations are always a treat
Cons: Mixed messages from the story
The Bottom Line
Mixed story moral
Make this a lesser effort
From a good author

Bully Bruce Gets Shrunk Down to Size

A couple weeks ago, I decided to grab a couple Bill Peet books from the library at random.  I remember the entire family loving his books when we found them for my younger brother.  One of the books I grabbed was Big Bad Bruce, and I've got to say this one was a disappointment.

The peace and quite of Forevergreen Forest was shattered the day that Bruce found it.  The bear loved to entertain himself by rolling boulders around breaking small trees and logs and disrupting the smaller animals.

One day, an especially large boulder he rolls barely misses a witch, and she decides to cut Bruce down to size - literally.  Will a shrunk Bruce be able to survive?

The book has the usual Bill Peet style.  The pages are mostly illustration with somewhere between two and four paragraphs on each page to tell the story.  The illustrations are rich in detail and a bit on the more realistic side as apposed to the cartoony side (he can alternate between the two depending on the book).

These books are not for early readers, but can be enjoyed by anyone as a read aloud.  Some of words will provide an opportunity to stretch a young persons vocabulary, so that's definitely a good thing.

My problem is with the story, or instead the ending to the story.  At first, when Bruce gets shrunk down to size, he is scared and runs for his life when some of the creatures he's bullied attack him.  However, a few days later, he's forgotten this lesson and is back to picking on creatures smaller than himself.  I was expecting a moral about how bullying is wrong, and the last page seems to throw that out the window.

Of course, maybe I'm looking for the wrong moral.  Maybe the real moral of this story is that a bully is going to bully no matter what happens to him or her.  So the best thing to do is to avoid and ignore them because they will never change.  That's certainly a sad lesson for a picture book, but it's also, sadly, true.

Because of the mixed message, Big Bad Bruce doesn't live up to the rest of Bill Peet's offerings.  I recommend finding some of his better books before you read this one.

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