The Book of Mean People

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9780786814008: The Book of Mean People

In a lighthearted but thought-provoking way, this journal acknowledges that children experience the world differently than adults do. An adult might not realize what a child thinks is mean. Children define "mean" differently according to their age and family experiences. It's important for children to have a safe place to express their frustration and confusion about the world. This journal is one tool for building this safety in your family. How do mean people make you feel? What are some mean things people do? What is the meanest thing of all? What are some nice things people could do instead of being mean? Can friends be mean to each other and still be friends? What could you say to someone who does something mean to you? Writing and drawing are healthy emotional outlets. My Book of Mean People Journal encourages children to develop their self-awareness and self-expression. The activities in this book will help children come to terms with their emotions. By using this journal, children become more aware of why people--including themselves-- do mean things.

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Review:

Pulitzer Prize-winner Toni Morrison returns with her son Slade for a second kids' book, this one a catalog of the "mean people" in a young rabbit's life. The results, happily, make for much more fun than the Morrison duo's weirdly subtle The Big Box.

"This is a book about mean people," begins our tiny hero, and almost immediately we realize that illustrator Pascal Lemaître is going to give cartoonist Matt Groening a run for his money when it comes to goofily rendered rabbits. Each "mean" person gets playful, exaggerated, kid-perspective treatment from Lemaître, whether we're seeing a towering dad who barely fits onto two pages ("Some mean people are big") or a mother who's using her nearly telescopic arm to force veggies down our hero's throat ("There are people who smile when they are being mean"). The rabbit's "Mean People" book gets assembled page by page, and no one is spared--not grandparents, brothers, teachers, not even a babysitter with an alarm clock five times the size of her head.

The Morrisons maintain some of their Big Box subtlety by begging the question--of both kids and grownups--of why and whether and which of these people are really "mean" at all. (Even young kids will see the difference between making somebody get out of bed in the morning and tearing the wings off a butterfly.) Whatever the lesson, The Book of Mean People ends inevitably, triumphantly--"I will smile anyway!"--with a joyous, naked plunge into a flowery forest. ("How about that!") (Ages 4 to 8) --Paul Hughes

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.

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