April 27, 2020

What If Bunny's Not a Bully?

Written by Lana Button
Illustrated by Christine Battuz
Kids Can Press
32 pp.
Ages 3-7
March 2020

Kitty from Lana Button and Christine Battuz's My Teacher's Not Here! (2018) is still learning to navigate school and to be a part of a peer group. But she's a clever kitty and when she's told about Bunny being a bully, Kitty is determined to understand.

From What If Bunny's Not a Bully? by Lana Button, illus. by Christine Battuz
Elephant tells all the others that Bunny is a bully because she is mean and will make them sad if she gets mad. But Kitty wants to understand so much about Bunny being a bully.
...did she start out friendly,
a kid like you and me,
but ran into a bullybug
whose stringer makes you mean?
She has questions about how Bunny became a bully, whether she will always be a bully, and even whether it's contagious.
From What If Bunny's Not a Bully? by Lana Button, illus. by Christine Battuz
But when Kitty worries that she could become a bully and too be left out, Elephant reassures her that they would never leave her out because then they would be the mean ones. That's when Kitty recognizes that maybe Bunny is not the bully she's assumed to be and they need to change something to make things better.

Lana Button has a keen sense of how young children think and feel. Like many young children, Kitty will tend to follow when she feels that others know a situation better, like the elephant seems to know from experience with Bunny. But Kitty also has an empathetic heart that makes her think about the big picture and discover when that picture may be skewed. From her innocent worries about a contagion to visualizing an elderly Bunny still being shunned by Kitty's peers during a game of croquet, Kitty sees beyond what they are being told and the hurt some of them feel.
From What If Bunny's Not a Bully? by Lana Button, illus. by Christine Battuz
Christine Battuz's illustrations emphasize that innocence of perspective in her use of colour and shape, placing her very softly rounded animals in familiar school yard scenes. Her stylized landscape of patterned balls on trunks for trees, and red flowers dotting the yard, with birds throughout is as the very young often depict their surroundings. Yet there's so much to see in the expressions of Christine Battuz's characters, from discomfort and bossiness, to confusion and surprise, that What If Bunny's Not a Bully? could be an anchor book for lessons about feelings.

For young children, lessons in getting along with others and creating inclusive communities can be challenging. Their needs are often so immediate and egocentric. But what Lana Button and Christine Battuz have done is brought these lessons to their bubble of experience and helped guide them to seeing outside of themselves to understand what others may be experiencing. A valuable lesson for all of us.


Monday April 27, 2020
at 2 p.m. EST


to a reading
by author Lana Button
What If Bunny's Not a Bully?


 to a conversation about pro-social behaviour in primary grades.

as part of the #CanadaPerforms live presentations.

Just go to Lana Button's Facebook page at

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations to Lana Button on her picture book WHAT IF BUNNY IS NOT A BULLY! Illustrations are beautifully done by Christine Battuz.