Book Review: Better Than You

Author: Trudy Ludwig
Illustrated by Adam Gustavson
Interest Level: Ages 6 and Up

From the Book Jacket: Tyler's neighbor Jake brags about everything. Tyler can't show Jake a basketball move, a school assignment, or a new toy without Jake saying he can do better - and it leaves Tyler feeling like he shouldn't even try. With help from his uncle Kevin, Tyler begins to understand that Jake's bragging has nothing to do with Tyler's own abilities. Jake's story gives kids insight into what lies beneath the urge to brag and shows them how adopting a "better than you" attitude can break friendships rather than build them.

Why It's On My Bookshelf: Author Trudy Ludwig continues to help the kids in my school with yet another awesome book. Does she read my mind or something? I'm always complaining there are not enough good ones out there on sportsmanship and bragging. These behaviors can be big problems for children and cause many an unhappy face in the classroom or on the playground. Lets not forget the headache they cause the adults too!

You are gonna love the metaphor of a pufferfish Trudy uses to give insight as to what's behind these bragging attitudes. "But when a kid acts like a pufferfish, he takes up so much space that he can also push away friends." Light bulbs were flashing all through my audience as I read that page. This was so helpful to me as a teaching tool. I made an outline of a pufferfish on the board so we could get some brainstorming/discussion rolling.

I love the ending of her story. Trudy doesn't sugarcoat it with a "and then we made up and were bff's." Tyler decides in the end to go his own way with a new friend - one that doesn't have issues. One of the students yelled out, "Yes! He chose a friendly fish. Like a dolphin!" Ha ha. Kids need to be reminded they don't have to stick around and be beat up emotionally by bad behavior. When I look around our playground I see kids in that sidekick position. But I got to make an impact on them with this great new story. Maybe they will start making some new friendship choices. It seems likely........

Keep em' coming Trudy.     

A Link to This Book:


  1. I've got this in my stack ready to read to kids. I also love how characters in her books don't just magically make up and everything is ok again in the a sitcom or something. Great review!

  2. What good timing, I had just put this book on my order for next year's materials. Hope you enjoyed your maternity leave, I just returned from leave as well! Looking forward to more book reviews :)

  3. Yay - welcome back! Looks like Trudy's got another winner; thanks for the lead.

    Today at the Corner I've posted an updated version of my Mouse Was Mad guest post for you so I'm linking back so my readers can bookmark your awesome site!

    Sending smiles and warm School Counseling Week wishes,


  4. Welcome Back!! Can't wait to get this book!! I have all of her other books and this past fall I was able to do a live video conference with Trudy Ludwig! She is just as awesome in person/on video!! Great to have you back!