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.