Big Mean Mike

2012. 40p. 978-0-76364-990-6. 15.99.
K-Gr 2–Big Mean Mike is a dog whose image is not supposed to include fuzzy bunny friends. As the toughest canine in the neighborhood, he wears silver spikes and combat boots and drives a big mean car that makes a lot of mean noises. One afternoon he finds a  fluffy bunny in his car and leaves the sad rabbit on the sidewalk eating dust as he peels away. The persistent animal keeps returning with friends until the day of the Monster Truck Show when there are four incredibly endearing bunnies gazing at him. Dropping his macho image for just a moment, Mike gives in to their sweet, pleading faces and takes them in to watch the show. Knudsen has created a tough guy with a soft heart who ultimately chooses his friends despite what others may think and still manages to be himself. Magoon’s bunnies are digitally rendered with soft, fuzzy edges but are just as tough on the inside as Mike is on the outside when they growl at the crossbones-adorned bullies picking on their large companion for hanging out with uncool friends. Readers will fall for the adorable bunnies and cheer Mike’s new devotion to them. Share this doggedly worthy read-aloud during your favorite friendship-themed storyhours for a lot of growls and laughs.–Kristine M. Casper, Huntington Public Library, NY
Mike, "the biggest, toughest dog in the whole neighborhood," is embarrassed by the cute little bunnies that keep sneaking into his "big, mean car." However, they turn out to be good company, so Mike stops worrying about his image. This ultimately tender story's mixed-media illustrations comically play up the contrast between the adorable fuzzy bunnies and their hulking, loving bad boy.
Readers will laugh as Big Mean Mike, who wears a spiky collar and combat boots, struggles to resist the fluffy bunnies that start to follow him. As he puts it, “Gosh you guys are cute . . . I mean, I hate cute! Grrr! I’m Big Mean Mike!” Though he is wary of being seen with them, Big Mean Mike brings the bunnies into a monster truck show rather than leave them in the parking lot where fierce dogs abound. Big Mean Mike’s surprising tenderness is an effective reminder that even those with an intimidating demeanor may have a soft and cuddly side. Many kids will likely recognize Big Mean Mike’s uncertainty about hanging out with the bunnies because he worries what others will think. Ultimately, he decides to be friends with “whoever I want! I like these bunnies. They know how to have a good time. And they’re adorable!” Scott Magoon’s pink-cheeked, wide-eyed bunnies are hilarious and endearing and contrast comically with Big Mean Mike’s tough-guy appearance.

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