Reading/Interest Level: Preschool, Primary
Author: Brandon Mull
Illustrator: Brandon Dorman
Publisher: Shadow Mountain
Chad and his imaginary friend, Pingo, are enjoying recess with Chad’s classmates and their respective imaginary friends. Their fun Games turn quickly into taunting and competition as the children argue which of their imaginary friends is the smartest, sneakiest, coolest, and so forth. Jeremy, the playground bully, and his imaginary friend, Grunt, become upset that they weren’t invited to participate in the games. Pingo is disappointed with the rivalry and wants a better way to play where everyone can be included. The children deem Pingo the best for his efforts to make friends and he closes with the iconic statement: “Nobody is the best. We’re all good at different things. And that makes friendship fun. Let’s go play!”
This is a very sweet storybook suitable for children in preschool or younger grades. The moral of the story is clearly portrayed without being stated explicitly. The book itself is on the larger side, with vibrant Pixar-like illustrations. The characters are charming and expressive and represent multiple ethnicities. The text is large, with certain action words larger than others. It may not be at the reading level of the intended audience, but with the large print, children may be able to improve their decoding as they follow along with an adult’s reading. Overall, a darling read! Pingo and the Playground Bully is a great book to read out loud and to open discussions concerning social skills and bullying.