5 Stars Big Mean Mike Michelle Knudsen Scott Magoon Candlewick Press No. Pages: 40 Ages: 4 + ................. ..................
Inside Jacket: Big Mean Mike is the biggest, toughest dog in the whole neighborhood. He’s even got a big, mean car that he drives around the big, mean streets. Everyone knows how big and tough he is — which is just the way Mike likes it.
Then one day a tiny, fuzzy bunny shows up in his car. Mike puts it on the sidewalk and drives away before anyone can see. But the bunny keeps coming back — with friends! — no matter how many times Mike tells them to scram. Big, mean dogs do not hang around with tiny, fuzzy bunnies! But gosh, those bunnies sure are cute.
Yes, Mike was a big, mean dog. He ruled the streets. No one dared to say anything untold to Big Mean Mike. Mike drives a big, mean car and he bought a pair of mean looking boots that made his feet look even bigger and meaner—because he is Big Mean Mike. On returning to his big, mean car, with his new big, mean boots in hand, Mike finds a little, fuzzy bunny sitting in the car’s big trunk. Mike picked up the cute bunny and put him on the sidewalk.
Big, mean dogs and tiny, cute bunnies did not go together.
The next day Mike found the bunny and a friend in his glove box. Again, he put them down on the sidewalk and left. The following day three bunnies were in the big, mean car waiting for Big, Mean Mike.
“Get out of my car, you bunnies!” Mike shouted.
“What if someone sees you up there?”
Mike put each bunny back on the sidewalk. He tried to explain that big, mean dogs and cute, fuzzy bunnies do not hang around together. Mike stopped driving for a few days hoping to avoid the bunnies. When Mike had tickets for the Monster Truck Show, he had to take his big, mean car. And guess what?
Big Mean Mike is adorable. Mike is a huge dog who is adored, or at least respected as the biggest, toughest dog in the neighborhood. Mike liked being the biggest, toughest dog. But little, cute, fuzzy bunnies, he thought, would ruin his reputation. He was afraid he would be laughed at, maybe humiliated by the cute, nose twitching bunnies. And he was right.
“Guess you’re not so big and mean after all!”
The one big theme of this charming book is defending your friends. Big, mean Mike’s friends catch him with the bunnies. They taunt Mike. He thinks his image is ruined. Then one of the bunnies came to his rescue. Mike replied in kind, letting his friends know,
“I’m Big Mean Mike! I can hang out with whoever I want!”
The bunnies had finally won Mike over and he decided it didn’t matter what anyone else thought. That is the other big message of this big, mean, and cute, picture book. Be yourself. Do not worry what others think of you, worry about what you think of yourself. Be who you are and be proud of whom you are. If others tease you for being you, it is their problem. (Okay, a few big, proud, healthy messages).
I really like Big Mean Mike. It has strong images of Mike. He is big, wears spikes in his collar, drives the biggest car, and has a big growl. Offset this with the image of the bunnies. They are little, even tiny, fuzzy, cute, and their noses twitch. Just like Mike, the bunnies can growl. They growl to protect Mike from his rude friends. That image is the best. The little guy coming to the rescue of the biggest guy. That bunny not only had courage, but confidence in himself.
Big Mean Mike is funny. It will have you and the kids laughing out loud. Mostly the illustrations will bring the biggest laughs. The dog town Scott Magoon created is crazy with all the different types of dogs walking the streets. I have a friend or two that looked just like a couple of those dogs. If any big car has ever cut you off or swerved ahead of you, only to get stuck at the same stoplight as you, Big Mean Mike’s car will have you laughing. On a big, mean day Mike could be one of those drivers.
Big Mean Mike is for young children about to enter any school (or anywhere), for the first time. They can find strength through Mike’s strength. Big, Mean Mike did not care what any of the other dogs said about his bunny friends. He enjoyed their company. They all had fun together. It did not matter that big, tough dogs and little, cute bunnies seemed a mismatch, because for Mike and the bunnies their friendship worked out great. The bunnies could be little and mean and Mike could be kind and gentle.