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Reviewed by Rosie Malezer for Readers' Favorite
Ciaran and the Troll Bully is a children’s picture book written and illustrated by Meadow Griffin. Ciaran is a young goblin (fitheal) who lives in a magical world. After moving to a new town and school, Ciaran is miserable because all of the other students are trolls. They pick on Ciaran and call him names because he is different to them in species and skin color. At home, Ciaran’s sadness turns to anger and he captures a pixie in a jar, but quickly lets her go when he sees her tears. The next day at school, Ciaran watches as a large troll bullies Meep and steals his lunch. Feeling sorry for Meep, Ciaran shares his lunch, thus making a new, lifelong friend.
I enjoyed the story of Ciaran and the Troll Bully, largely due to the fact that I have encountered the same type of bullying myself when I was younger (an Indigenous Pagan who is Deaf). Meadow Griffin’s writing style is unique and her illustrations are absolutely delightful, perfectly capturing the emotional distress or joy of each character as the story progresses. I also found it easy to connect with Ciaran and empathised with his situation as the new kid at school. Different paths in the story are followed, not only with the bullied becoming the bully, but also of Ciaran feeling sorry for another student who’d surely felt the same way Ciaran had when he’d first arrived at the new school. Watching bullies is difficult, while standing up to them takes a whole new level of courage – something which, sadly, very few people have. Kindness and empathy shown towards a bullying victim turns a person’s world from impossible to bearable, and making a new friend after one feels so alone and isolated can literally be a life-saving thing. I recommend Ciaran and the Troll Bully be read to young children who are about to start their earliest years in school (or even kindergarten) so they know that kindness triumphs over hatred.