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  • Writer's pictureNZ Booklovers

The Gubyllub by Lisa Hamilton-Gibbs

Updated: Jun 11, 2023

What’s a Gubyllub?, you might be thinking. Read it backwards and there’s the clue… the Gubyllub is the flipside of the dreaded Bullybug, which, if left untreated, can spread “like nits.” When Rose witnesses a bullying incident in the school playground, she unflinchingly approaches the perpetrator and shares her story.

Teased for being small, Rose found herself bitten by the Bullybug and overnight her sorrow morphed into vindictiveness: barbing her classmates - the teacher even! Rose’s Bullybug had taken hold of the school, making all the kids mean to each other; the playground, a minefield of misery. Sent home to find a cure, Rose discovers she must saturate the nasty, noxious Bullybug with kindness to turn it into a fun-lovin’, sun-chasing Gubyllub that wants to make kindness contagious.

The illustrations - a creative collage-style mash-up of drawings and photos - really bring to life the transformation that takes place when the Bullybug reverts into the Gubyllub. In a footnote, the author explains she wanted to show a different perspective of bullying: that we need to see it as a problem behaviour, rather than just labelling someone a bully - and that we’re all capable of transforming ourselves into kinder, compassionate humans. To support the book’s message, there’s also a website ( complete with anti-bullying information and resources such as delightful Gubyllub-themed affirmation cards - and even your very own Gubyllub in a bottle.

The bug concept seems to capture kids’ imagination: my sons (12 and 10) are at the older end of the picture book audience, but they still loved it, and reading the book sparked an animated and thoughtful conversation in my Year 1 class of five-year-olds.

Reviewer: Stacey Anyan



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