CM . . .
. Volume XX Number 34. . . .May 2, 2014
Thomas’ decision to be a bully turns out to be a foolish one because Thomas is an unlikely character to fill that role. In fact, it was a "toadilly" terrible idea as Thomas is not particularly strong, either in physique or character, and he’s hampered by a funny voice, a weak body and his own fears. The title says it all! Thomas is just not an effective bully. Instead, others just laugh and make fun of his arrogant ways. Even practicing doesn't produce results.
Then Thomas runs into Gomer being bullied by a huge toad who ends up threatening Thomas as well. Thomas’ quick thinking and a clever trick outwit the bully and save them both. In the end, Thomas learns to value friendship over trying to impress. The story is a bit slim on content, with a problem almost too easily resolved. But there is nothing simple or disappointing about the illustrations which are wonderful. Created with acrylics on gessoed paper, they sparkle with movement and expression, and the bright earthy colours give life and added texture to the "toadilly" amusing creatures.
The topic of bullying is a serious issue in schools today, and this book, although very lighthearted in dealing with this problem, could still be used as a introductory discussion concerning why kids turn to bullying. Appropriate ways of dealing with bullies and what to do if one is on the receiving end of this type of behaviour are not really covered here, but this amusing title could be utilized as a jumping off place for the very young. Older children will enjoy how the author used the play on words of "totally to toadilly".
Reesa Cohen is a retired Instructor of Children’s Literature and Information Literacy at the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba in Winnipeg, MB.
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