I’m Number One by Michael Rosen, illustrated by Bob Graham
A-One rules the toys. He tells them all what to do. He demands that the other toys wind his key, and then critiques the way they do it. Then he teases each of them about what they are wearing. Maddy has a floppy yellow hat that A-One teases her about and when she takes it off, he puts it on himself. He does the same with Sally’s knapsack and Sid’s scarf. But when his mean words get jumbled up, they start to sound very silly indeed. When everyone starts laughing, even A-One has to join in.
This is a clever book on bullying because the bully turns out to be alright in the end. It really shows how any child can take on the role of a bully without meaning to. A-One is demanding and demeaning. His tone in the book is perfectly done as are the voices of the other toys. Rosen’s writing has a gentle quality to it that works well here. He uses repetition nicely throughout the book, drawing young readers in. At the end of the book, humor plays an important part in reminding A-One that he is one of the group, not the only one.
Graham’s art also has a gentle quality to it. I love the way that A-One is the only hard toy in the group. The others are stuffed and soft. In the illustrations, he is stiff-lined while the others have softer, rounder edges. This makes a nice visual tie in with the story.
Recommended for all children, bullies and bullied. This book takes a gentle and laughter-filled approach to a difficult subject. Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from library copy.