PICTURE BOOK MONTH: Pingo and the Playground Bully by Brandon Mull

written by Brandon Mull, illustrated by Brandon Dorman
Shadow Mountain, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-60907-178-3
Picture Book Fantasy
Grades 1-5
Reviewed from purchased copy.


In first grade, Chad and his imaginary friend, Pingo, meet other kids and their imaginary friends: Gary protects the galaxy with Sparky the robot; Tiffany helps save the day with Awesome Girl; and Dustin can hide Mr. Bob in his pocket. One recess, after defeating a clan of lava monsters, Chad and his friends decide to have a contest to see which imaginary friend is the smartest or the strongest or the sneakiest. However, when Jeremy, the schoolyard bully, and his imaginary friend, Grunt, decide to prove that they re the best, Pingo saves the day by befriending Jeremy and Grunt and inviting them on an adventure down the Amazon River. We re all good at different things, and that makes friendship fun. Let s go play! A delightful, full-color picture book about the power of kindness and the importance of including others.


Brandon Mull is the author of the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling Beyonders and Fablehaven series. Brandon resides in a happy little valley near the mouth of a canyon with his wife and four children. He spent two years living in the Atacama Desert of Northern Chile where he learned Spanish and juggling. He once won a pudding eating contest in the park behind his grandma’s house, earning a gold medal.


There are a lot of books being published about bullying and the effects of it.  What I loved about this one is the imagination involved and the extra twist involving thinking one is better than someone else and how that can lead to a different kind of bullying, even among friends.  Chad and his imaginary friend, Pingo, spend recess playing with their friends, Gary, Tiffany, and Dustin along with their imaginary friends.  They avoid Jeremy though and his imaginary friend, Grunt, because he bullies them.  One day though they get into a contest about which imaginary friend is better.  I loved that Pingo points out that this is silly because each of them has things that they do especially well. I especially liked the fact that when Jeremy and Grunt step up to bully the kids and their friends, instead of fighting back or getting defensive, Pingo steps up and invites Jeremy and Grunt to play with them.  In addition to liking the story line, I loved Brandon Dorman's illustrations, they are so bright and colorful and imaginative, they create a lot of things to talk about when sharing the book.  


  1. I didn't know there was another Pingo book!

    1. Just came out a few weeks ago. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Making friends is definitely the way to end bullying!

  3. I agree and I love the way Pingo does it, by inviting Jeremy and Grunt to join them on their imaginary journey. Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Do you know whether this is available in the UK? I could really do with sonething like this for my daughter.

  5. What a cute little guy! I meant Pingo but the author is a cute little guy also ;0)

    I am drawn to read the book because of the cover and the anti-bullying
    message. Thanks for the review. I need to get hopping on this blog hop.

  6. I love the way the bullying is resolved. I always tell my kids that behind bullying is a sad/angry/frustrated child who needs compassion. What a wonderful little book and I love the little bit about the author and the pudding-eating contest! lol

  7. The storyline does sound like it takes a positive twist, I have a child just the right age to read this. Thanks for sharing.


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