Reminds that brainpower's better than brute power.

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Peter readily prepares to fight with the older boys, but he and Archie eventually succeed through cleverness, not through physical force.

Violence & scariness

A bully knocks Peter down. The illustration shows only a clenched fist at the end of the bully's outstretched arm. Shadowy illustrations of the big boys.

Not applicable

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this fast-paced, exhilarating tale keeps readers enthralled as the boys ingeniously evade the bullies. Expressive, full-color illustrations heighten the suspense.

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What's the story?

Two small boys, outnumbered and outweighed, outsmart their tormentors in a riveting tale that reminds readers that brainpower is more effective than brute power. Richly colored and highly detailed illustrations provide a vivid portrayal of an urban landscape.


Is it any good?


The universal appeal of this story reaches beyond gender, race, and locale. Whether city dwellers or suburbans, whether male or female, and regardless of ethnicity, most children have had encounters with bullies of some sort and can empathize with Peter and Archie's predicament. Kids will be rooting for the intrepid duo throughout their adrenaline-pumping adventure. The triumph over the bullies is rewarding and empowering for children.

The multitextured illustrations of this work earned Ezra Jack Keats a Caldecott Honor award. Using vibrant colors that fill every inch of the pages, Keats re-creates the city streets that are Archie and Peter's playground. Dark colors dominate, from the sky's smoky blue to the dusky taupes of the looming buildings. Cut paper layered over the paintings adds to their dimensionality. Keats's attention to detail, such as crayon scribbles overlaid on paintings of walls to simulate graffiti, contributes to the realism of the work and captures readers' attention.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about bullying. Why do you think some kids bully others? What do you think of the way Peter and Archie handle the bullies in the story?

Book details

Author:Ezra Jack Keats
Illustrator:Ezra Jack Keats
Genre:Picture Book
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:Penguin Group
Publication date:November 1, 1998
Number of pages:40
Publisher's recommended age(s):4 - 7
Award:Caldecott Medal and Honors

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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