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"This is a book about mean people," begins our tiny hero, and almost immediately we realize that illustrator Pascal Lemaître is going to give cartoonist Matt Groening a run for his money when it comes to goofily rendered rabbits. Each "mean" person gets playful, exaggerated, kid-perspective treatment from Lemaître, whether we're seeing a towering dad who barely fits onto two pages ("Some mean people are big") or a mother who's using her nearly telescopic arm to force veggies down our hero's throat ("There are people who smile when they are being mean"). The rabbit's "Mean People" book gets assembled page by page, and no one is spared--not grandparents, brothers, teachers, not even a babysitter with an alarm clock five times the size of her head.
The Morrisons maintain some of their Big Box subtlety by begging the question--of both kids and grownups--of why and whether and which of these people are really "mean" at all. (Even young kids will see the difference between making somebody get out of bed in the morning and tearing the wings off a butterfly.) Whatever the lesson, The Book of Mean People ends inevitably, triumphantly--"I will smile anyway!"--with a joyous, naked plunge into a flowery forest. ("How about that!") (Ages 4 to 8) --Paul Hughes
My Book of Mean People
Morrison, Toni; Morrison, Slade
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