Sunday, June 17, 2012

Big Mean Mike

by Michelle Knudsen
illustrated by Scott Magoon
Candlewick | August 2012

"Big Mean Mike was the biggest, toughest dog in the whole neighborhood" begins this heartwarming tale of an unlikely friendship. Mike drove a "big, mean car" and "scared all the other dogs in the neighborhood." It seems "that was just the way Mike liked it."

One day, after Mike buys some new big, mean boots and goes to put them in the car, he finds a tiny, fuzzy bunny in the trunk. He sends it on its way before anyone sees him with such a cute little creature. Soon, though, the bunny infestation gets worse as Mike continues to find tiny, fuzzy bunnies in his glove box, on the hood of his car, and under the driver's seat.

Exasperated, Mike takes the now four bunnies into a monster truck show in his gym bag because leaving them in the parking lot "wouldn't be safe" and "he had no choice." <grin> As the bunnies and Mike cozy up, the other dogs make fun of Mike because of his new friends, so different from him. Funnily enough, "one of the bunnies leaned forward and made a tiny growly sound." Ha! Perhaps these new friends are more alike than one would think at first glance.

From then on, Mike and the four tiny, fuzzy bunnies are the best of friends. And it turns out, "that was just the way Mike liked it."

The story is adorable - give those different from you a chance! - and the artwork is great. Mike is big and mean without being the least bit scary and the first fuzzy bunny appears on page 7, pretty early on. There are lots of full page bleeds and some excellent double spreads. Dogs and bunnies as stand-ins for humans works perfectly here. The illustrations are big and simple and clear and entirely pleasing. Overall, a win!

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