Goats in spotlight of young children’s book: ‘Bullying Is Baaad!’

GUMBORO – Bullying is a nationwide problem across America.

Sandy Kenney, a 49-year-old wife, parent and grandmother from Gumboro, says bullying is bad. Actually, it’s “baaad.”

Ms. Kenney has put bullying observed within her family’s little goat herd into pictures and words for a children’s book she hopes will have a positive effect on bullying.

It’s title: Bullying Is Baaad!

“I am very excited!” said Ms. Kenney. “I think it is going to gear more toward Pre-K to second grade. I’m hoping that it can be relatable.”

Published by Salt Water Media of Berlin, MD., the 26-page paperback showcases the Kenney family’s three baby Nygerian Dwarf Goats. Their names are D.A., Clover and Blondie.

Technically, the goats are owned by her 16-year-old son Will, a sophomore at Sussex Central High School. “They are actually Will’s, but I tell everybody they are mine,” said Ms. Kenney. “They are a big part of our family.”

Statistically speaking, research and studies show that between one in three and one in four students say they have been bullied.

That ratio goes for the Kenney goats.

The book-writing impetus began when the goats arrived last year at the Kenney family’s rural homestead.

“That is kind of how it happened when we got the goats last summer. D.A. and Clover, they were there for about a week and then we brought Blondie. They were just so mean to her. That’s the only way I can put it. They would just butt her. They would charge at her,” Ms. Kenney said.

In goat terminology, Blondie was the black sheep of the family.

“Blondie would jump around and play, and they wanted no part of her. Of course, it is the whole animal nature thing, the dominant thing. They were already together – brother and sister. The male was the dominant male and dominant one of the entire herd. Of course, Clover would be the dominant female,” Ms. Kenney explained. “So poor Blondie didn’t have any chance. She had been debudded, which means her horns are gone, and they haven’t, so that was another safety issue that we had to worry about.”

Sandy Kenney

“With us being out there we let them out one on one, so Blondie could spend quality time with each of them without being bullied or tag-teamed, because they liked to tag-team her, too. We are out there to monitor and separate them when something like that happens,” said Ms. Kenney. “We also separated them in the pen. There is a fence between her side and their side. But she can still see them, and they can still see her, and they can still smell each other.”

While progress has been made the goats are still separated. “They are nicer to her now, but they are still the dominant ones. They will butt her over food,” said Ms. Kenney. “Blondie is a sweetheart. She is very playful. They’ll get aggravated with her and annoyed and will butt at her but just not as bad as they used to. They have actually taken to her now. Because she is so sweet I don’t know how you couldn’t. They do play with her now where before they wouldn’t even play with her.”

Clover

So, the idea for a children’s book was spawned.

“I said to Will, ‘What a great way to relate bullying to young children. This would be a great book,’” said Ms. Kenney. “I just think how relatable it could be because kids love animals. There are differences because there is a dominant nature and things like that for animals. But in all actuality, there are a lot of similarities. And children can relate to animals.”

Work on the book began in late August/early September. It was finished in late October.

“I’ve been with the publisher back and forth. I changed things, the pictures, some of the wording, some of the text. I added this and added that. And here we are,” said Ms. Kenney. “It’s a long process but it has been fun.”

Sandy and Bruce Kenney have three children and three grandchildren. Her book is dedicated to the grand-kids: Gauge Kenney, age 6; Maggie Kenney, who is 2 and Lacey Schaub, age 3.

D.A.

“That is why I dedicated it to them,” Ms. Kenney said. “I’m hoping it means something to them.”

The book’s preface sets the stage: “Bullying is bad even if you are a goat. Just look at these three baby Nygerian Dwarf Goats. Clover and D.A. did not easily accept Blondie into their herd. In fact, they bullied her for weeks. However, Blondie never gave up and now they are the best of friends!”

In early April, Ms. Kenney began booking free program appearances.

Blondie is a tag-along part of the presentation.

“I have been reaching out myself to local day-cares, schools and libraries offering a program where I will come in, read the book, do a little talking, and have Blondie there, and let the kids meet Blondie,” said Ms. Kenney. “Will made coloring pages of Blondie – and they are really beautiful – and we’re going to pass them out. I have also been buying stickers and pencils that say, ‘Bullying is Baaad, Love Blondie’ to give out.”

Blondie

And there’s more.

“We’re going to autograph books,” Ms. Kenney said. “In fact, Blondie has her own little stamp to autograph books, too. I have ordered a goat’s hoof stamp. So, they can get my autograph and Blondie’s – or just Blondie’s. I have a feeling the children are going to want just Blondie’s. Blondie is probably going to be famous. I am not kidding, she is the cutest thing ever.”

Program visits are free. “Being it was such a prominent issue I thought what better way than to get it out there to go to the children and let them see the goat first hand and read the book to them. I didn’t feel like I could charge for something like that. There is no charge for awareness of bullying,” said Ms. Kenney. “That’s what it is for. It’s for the kids. I think it is going to mean a lot to the kids.”

And the moral of the story?

“You’re not alone, and you may have to reach out to your family or other friends to help you,” said Ms. Kenney. “It may save that child that is being bullied and it may stop that child that is doing the bullying.”

The cost is $10 for a copy of Bullying is Baaad!. It will be available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Salt Water Media and possibly other outlets. People can like Ms. Kenney’s Facebook page: “Sandy Kenney writer” to reach her directly.

Ms. Kenney’s second book – We Baaalieve! – is currently in the works. It features none other than the three little goats, one of which does not believe in Santa Claus.

News Editor Glenn Rolfe can be reached at grolfe@newszap.com

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