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Comment: This item is in good condition. All pages and covers are readable. There are no stains or tears. Dust jacket is present if applicable. May contain small amounts of writing and/or highlighting. Spine and cover may show signs of wear. May not contain supplementary items. We ship within 1 business day. Big Hearted Books shares its profits with schools, churches and non-profit groups throughout New England. Thank you for your support!
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The Book of Mean People Hardcover – October 1, 2002

3.2 out of 5 stars 20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"This is a book about mean people," opens the mother-son team's second collaboration (after The Big Box). The narrative begins as a series of statements about cruelty, but Lemaitre (Emily the Giraffe) cleverly fashions the declaratives as thoughts belonging to an intelligent bunny narrator with a diminutive canine sidekick. For "Some mean people are big. Some little people are mean," a spread shows a huge bunny towering above the overalls-clad hero; in the next, a diapered bunny ties the narrator's long ears in knots. The book soon turns from general truisms about "mean" people into a lament about the incomprehensible demands of grown-ups. Lemaitre, however, never ceases to see the humor in the situation. "My grandmother tells me to sit down. My grandfather tells me to sit up," appears on a spread depicting the bunny, one ear down, one ear up, looking torn between the two. The next spread ("How can I sit down and sit up at the same time?") portrays the bunny lying wide-eyed, tipped backwards in his chair, while his dog hides behind a table leg. Others scenarios are chilling, as when the bunny's mother screams ("Do you hear me?"), blasting the hero and his puppy clear across the room. "Frowning people scare me when they smile," the rabbit says at the end, surrounded by his family, all grinning evilly; but he has the last word: "I will smile anyway! How about that!" This bittersweet volume takes meanness in stride and advocates kindness as the antidote. Ages 4-8.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

PreS. The Morrisons' first picture book, The Big Box (2000), was heavy and messagy about the scariness of adults. This time the authors do a better job of showing a small child's viewpoint, and Lemaitre's cartoon-style bunny characters in ink and cheerful watercolors make the grown-ups look silly as well as ugly and mean. In the first dramatic picture, the stiff, frowning father rabbit looms across a double-page spread, his necktie like a weapon swinging at the child in the lower left-hand corner. Shouting is printed in huge letters across two pages that show the child trying to close his ears to his parents' scary standoff. Then there are grown-ups who smile when they are mean, bullies who whisper, and a teacher, a big brother, and a babysitter who are huge and overbearing. Of course, children's books long ago moved away from idyllic views of childhood innocence and bliss, so this idea isn't new. But small kids will recognize the angry scenarios, and they will enjoy talking about the pictures with adults who listen. Hazel Rochman
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 2 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 2
  • Hardcover: 48 pages
  • Publisher: Disney-Hyperion; 1 edition (September 23, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0786805404
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786805402
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 0.5 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #757,564 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on July 25, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I can't believe all the negative reviews this book has recieved on this site. Have these people never looked at the world through the eyes of children? Younger children (as well as many adolescents) see discipline and authority as "mean". It's helpful as a parent to be reminded of this and take the opportunities when we have to be "mean" (in their eyes) to explain why we do the things we do. "You have to eat your veggies because they help you stay healthy". "You have to obey because I want you to be safe". Etc, etc. I see this as a great book to be read to and with kids! It opens the door for discussions on the difference between behaviors that are truly mean (physical or emotional harm), things that annoy us (pesky little brothers), and things those in authority have us do for our own good (eating right, getting plenty of rest, etc.). Many, if not most children believe that adults live in a world where they can do anything they want. This book also creates a perfect opportunity for parents to talk about things we don't like to do and how we deal positively with the "mean" people we come in contact with. All in all a helpful book for those who chose to use it in a positive way.
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Format: Hardcover
I cannot believe how much negativity people put out. First of all this is supposed to be a cute and humorous book about what is considered mean. Children feel so many people in their lives are mean, because they can't understand everything just yet. This is not a book to teach children the differences between someone who is mean, and someone who is not!! This book validates children's feelings, and as an adult you can take the time to explain that people who tell you what to do are not really mean.

Is this book meant for a toddler with very limited experiences and understanding. OF COURSE NOT!!! So stop reading it to toddlers. This is meant for children who can clearly understand the tongue-in-cheek. That is the target audience. I read this book to my second grade classes every year. Do they truly believe everyone that tells them what to do is mean? NO. But it does help them deal with other mean children. It helps them feel like they can cope when people are really mean to them. I tell them that you will always find mean people around you, how you react is more important. I also believe that they can even reflect and understand that not all the people in their lives are really not mean afterall. However children need to be old enough to be able to make that connection.

This is an excellent book, it flows like poetry, the illustrations are great, and children enjoy it. My students could hear it everyday. It is short and sweet.
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Format: Spiral-bound Verified Purchase
The is a terrific way for children to express their anger and fears about people who frustrate, control, threaten, tease, or ignore them - all with a sense of humor. I am a child/family psychologist and often provide this journal to my young clients as we work to process negative emotions.
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By A Customer on November 18, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I can certainly see why some would disagree with the portrayl of parents, teachers, etc. as mean but I agreee with some of the other positive reviews. I think the Morrision's give children validation for their experience of these expectations as "mean". As a parent it reminds me to not take it so personally or explain why it's not mean to make my son eat his breakfast but instead to acknowledge that in his experience it is mean. That doesn't make me change my decision but it does let me honor his feelings too. As a family therapist I think it can be a nice opening for parents and children to talk about how our feelings don't always match others intentions. And even more importantly it can be a chance to encourage children to talk about how to deal with feeling like they are being treated unfairly (a common complaint among children of almost any age). I would say that you should give it a chance, if nothing else it's a cute little book that gives your kid someone (even if they're fictional) who really understands their feelings.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Awesome book!,,,in addition to the obvious ,my students learned a lot about word choice and voice. Toni and Slade Morrison have a way of presenting difficult social concepts to young students with poetic imagery and style.
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By A Customer on June 1, 2003
Format: Hardcover
i enjoyed this book. preschoolers deal in literal interpetations of what adults do and say. they have a hard time understanding "frowning people that smile". This book reminded me of some of Fred Gwynne's work on the same subject. how many times have you had a preschoolers to tell you "you're mean" because things don't go they way they plan or you do something they don't like. I think this book is for adults too. It gives us the child's possible perspective of the actions of the adults in their lives and leaves the child with the question...are they really mean people?
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Format: Hardcover
Needing inspiration to help explain why people are mean, I looked for children's books, which often contain the most concise, clear and simple explanations for important ideas. PLUS with illustrations. Voila!! and a collaboration by one of my fav authors.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm sure that all the children of the parents who reviewed this book love it. My child loves this book and I think it is important for children to understand that adults CAN be mean. My 2 years old and I have had discussions on being mean to people based on this book. It is a great lesson and written in a way that kids can relate.

TL;DR Ignore all the people who gave this book 1 star, they clearly are unable to have conversations with their children if they find this book to be so inappropriate.
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