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From Barnes & NobleThe Barnes & Noble Review
Mean people -- who needs 'em? In an observant and good-humored picture book, Nobel Prize winner Toni Morrison and her son, Slade, lend a voice to youngsters with a telling look at kids' experiences of meanness.
Using a simple but effective message, The Book of Mean People has one little bunny describing his perceptions of anger, along with all the mean people in his life. For example, he notices that "shouting is a favorite thing of mean people," but "some of the meanest people whisper." Words from family, babysitters, or teachers are also confusing and hurtful to him ("My grandparents are mean. My grandmother tells me to sit down. My grandfather tells me to sit up. How can I sit down and sit up at the same time?"), and he also wisely sees that someone's meanness can take the form of a smile, frown, or scream. But despite everyone's efforts to make him feel even smaller, the little guy realizes there's no need for his spirits to sink -- he can stay imaginative and happy, and just keep smiling.
Ideal for any kid who's feeling stung inside, The Book of Mean People speaks for children with certainty and thoughtfulness, without getting sappy. It's an astute book that deals with frequently overlooked emotions, and Pascal Lemaître's innocent bunny illustrations are just the icing on the cake, adding to the Morrisons' words with sweet humor and perspective that will have young readers nodding. A smart complement to discussions about bullying, understanding, or self-esteem, this gentle winner helps pad the hurt. Matt Warner