Bailey the Big Bully

Lizi Boyd, Author, Lizi Boyd, Illustrator Viking Children's Books $11.95 (320p) ISBN 978-0-670-82719-0

Bailey the bully is accustomed to getting his own way. One by one, the kids in the neighborhood have learned that to ignore Bailey's threats or orders is to invite arm-twisting and hair-pulling. The adults provide useless advice: ``Ignore him.'' A new boy named Max moves into town and begins to upset the balance of power, at first by cheerfully resisting Bailey's attempts to dominate the scene, and then by bopping the bully on the nose. Eventually Max and the other children invite Bailey to play in their new tree house, with its sign specifying, ``BULLIES KEEP OUT.'' Any book featuring physical bullying as well as manipulation is bound to be somewhat disturbing to both adults and children, but the concept of ``the bully'' is one most children have to face at some point. It may be unfortunate that the story's resolution pivots on a physical blow, but this is realistic; few real bullies succumb to reason or pleas for compassion. Boyd's handling of the topic is skillful and down to earth. Her watercolors, in a clear, cool palette, are as successful as the text in presenting the problem without sentimentality. Ages 3-8. (Sept.)