Review: Big Mean Mike by Michelle Knudsen

big mean mike

Big Mean Mike by Michelle Knudsen, illustrated by Scott Magoon

Mike was the toughest and biggest dog in the neighborhood.  He prided himself on his spiked collar and his combat boots but best of all was his big mean car.  Just after getting a new pair of boots, Mike got a big surprise.  There in his car trunk was a little white fuzzy bunny rabbit.  Mike just knew that he couldn’t be seen with such a cute little creature because it would damage his reputation, so he set the bunny down and headed off in his car.  But things weren’t that simple to solve.  The next day he found two little white bunnies in his glove compartment.  The next day there were three bunnies on his hood.  Mike stopped driving his car until he needed to use it to get to the Monster Truck Show.  He checked everywhere for the bunnies and thought he was safe.  What is a big tough dog going to do with FOUR bunnies at a Monster Truck Show?  You will have to read it to see!

I really enjoyed this picture book about reputation and appearance.  Children will be drawn in with the flashy car and the big dog on the cover.  Happily though, this picture book has more depth than expected.  While it satisfies with cars, trucks and tough characters, it is also about appearances not really matching what’s inside.  Instead of being a mean dog, Mike is actually soft hearted.  He is always gentle with the bunnies and continuously notices how very cute they are.  He has a very soft side that is revealed gradually and delightfully.

Magoon’s illustrations add to the delight here with their cartoon toughness.  He uses clean lines, a very cool car design, and lots of spikes to display Mike’s toughness.  When the bunnies enter the story, they are pure fluff.  They bring a nice contrast to the rest of the illustrations.

A soft heart is on display once you turn that tough cover in this picture book about image and unlikely friendships.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Review: The Best Bike Ride Ever by James Proimos

best bike ride ever

The Best Bike Ride Ever by James Proimos and Johanna Wright

All Bonnie has said for seven days is “I want a bike” so when she finally gets a bike on the eighth day, she just can’t wait to try it out.  She can’t even wait to be shown how to use a bike, instead she just hops aboard and pedals off.  There’s only one problem – she doesn’t know how to stop.  She rode her bike over bridges and on top of elephants, between giraffe legs, to the top of the Statue of Liberty and the bottom of the Grand Canyon.  Unfortunately though, she did stop in the end, by falling over.  Happily, her parents were there not to scold her but to show her how to use her bike.  In fact, Bonnie had the adventure of a lifetime right in her own backyard as sharp eyed children will figure out.

This book is entirely playful from the over-the-top begging for a bike to the wild ride through the entire world to the final twist at the end.  Readers will experience their own adventurous ride as they read this book, never knowing quite where Bonnie and the book are heading next.  It’s a lot of fun to read! 

The illustrations are quirky and bright.  Filled with details but never fussy, they have a life to them that adds to the spunk of the book.  They are also filled with motion and movement, which makes them all the more enjoyable.

Great fun, this wild ride of a book will have children wishing for their own bike.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Dial Books for Young Readers.