Oprah Book Club® Selection, December 1997:
What would you say if someone told you you smelled like an old egg salad? Little Bill learns from his father that "So?" may be the best retort. This contribution to well-known comedian Bill Cosby's Little Bill series for beginning readers tackles the challenge of not only outsmarting mean-spirited bullies, but understanding them, too. The book begins when a new boy named Michael Reilly comes to Little Bill's class. At recess he suggests a game called "Playing the Dozens," where you get 12 chances to say something mean to a person, and the meanest insult wins.
As Little Bill spends the night agonizing about what prize-winning insults he can concoct for the next day's game, his father teaches him a sidestep maneuver that ends up diffusing the situation completely. If for some reason you miss this important lesson (your child certainly won't!), Clinical Professor of Psychiatry Alvin F. Poussaint's introduction provides a full analysis of peace-through-situation-deflation and how bullies are lonely and insecure. Early readers will welcome the large type and spacious format of the Little Bill books, enhanced by Varnette P. Honeywood's flat, vivacious, boldly colorful illustrations. (Ages 5 to 8)
From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 3. Cosby turns his hand to writing, telling stories about situations that children often face. In The Best Way to Play, Little Bill, the narrator, and his friends get caught up in the excitement and marketing of their favorite TV cartoon, Space Explorers, and desperately want their parents to buy them the expensive video game. They become bored with it quickly, however, and realize that it's more fun to play Space Explorers outside. In The Meanest Thing to Say, Little Bill comes face to face with a bully. The Treasure Hunt takes him on a voyage of self-exploration. It seems to him that everyone in his family has a special quality. After a full day of searching, he discovers that his is "telling stories and making people laugh." These titles feature short chapters, making them appropriate for beginning readers?but they're also short enough to be read aloud. Honeywood's illustrations are bright and eye-catching, and show Little Bill and his friends and family as having distinctive personalities and characteristics. Each book comes with a letter to parents from a child psychiatrist about the subject matter in that book. While the writing is nothing extraordinary, Cosby has a good grasp of the issues and how the world looks through children's eyes. The primarily African-American characters also make these books welcome additions to easy-reader collections.?Dina Sherman, Brooklyn Children's Museum, NY
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.