Cover image for The book of mean people
The book of mean people
Morrison, Toni.
Personal Author:
First edition.
Publication Information:
New York : Hyperion Books for Children, [2002]

Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 25 cm
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 1.5 0.5 64284.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Central Library PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
Clarence Library PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
East Aurora Library PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
Eden Library PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
Lancaster Library PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
Lancaster Library PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
Frank E. Merriweather Library PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books
Audubon Library PIC BK Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



Illustrated by Pascal Lemaitre. Toni Morrison's second picture book written with her son, Slade Morrison, offers a humorous look at how children interpret daily events. Sometimes people are mean intentionally, sometimes not. But this wise child, rendered as a delightful cartoon bunny by Pascal Lemaitre, learns how to rise above all meanness in the end. In full-colour throughout. Ages 4-8.

Author Notes

Toni Morrison was born in Lorain, Ohio on February 18, 1931. She received a B.A. in English from Howard University in 1953 and a master's degree in English from Cornell University in 1955 with her thesis on the theme of suicide in modern literature. She taught at several universities including Texas Southern University, Howard University, and Princeton University.

Her first novel, The Bluest Eye, was published in 1970. Her other works include Sula, Tar Baby, Jazz, Paradise, Love, A Mercy, Home, and God Help the Child. She has won several awards including the National Book Critics Circle Award for Song of Solomon in 1977, the Pulitzer Prize for Beloved in 1988, the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993, the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2012, the Edward MacDowell Medal for her outstanding contribution to American culture in 2016, and the PEN/Saul Bellow Award for Achievement in American Fiction in 2016. She also co-wrote children's books with her son, Slade Morrison, including The Big Box, The Book of Mean People, and Peeny Butter Fudge.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

PreS. The Morrisons' first picture book, The Big Box (2000), was heavy and messagy about the scariness of adults. This time the authors do a better job of showing a small child's viewpoint, and Lemaitre's cartoon-style bunny characters in ink and cheerful watercolors make the grown-ups look silly as well as ugly and mean. In the first dramatic picture, the stiff, frowning father rabbit looms across a double-page spread, his necktie like a weapon swinging at the child in the lower left-hand corner. Shouting is printed in huge letters across two pages that show the child trying to close his ears to his parents' scary standoff. Then there are grown-ups who smile when they are mean, bullies who whisper, and a teacher, a big brother, and a babysitter who are huge and overbearing. Of course, children's books long ago moved away from idyllic views of childhood innocence and bliss, so this idea isn't new. But small kids will recognize the angry scenarios, and they will enjoy talking about the pictures with adults who listen. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

"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 Lematre (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. Lematre, 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. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 1-Accompanied by whimsical pen-and-ink cartoon illustrations in the style of William Steig or Shel Silverstein, this book catalogs "mean people" from a child's point of view: "Some mean people are big. Some little people are mean.- My mother is mean. She says I don't listen. She says, `DO YOU HEAR ME?'" The illustrations feature a little bunny with big ears and a worried expression as she reacts to various unkind people in her family, before deciding to smile anyway and go play. The bunny's definition of "mean" includes a baby in diapers pulling the narrator's ears, her grandmother telling her to sit down, and her mother trying to get her to eat her peas-not instances of deliberate or intentional meanness. The book could be used as a springboard to discuss anger and shouting, etc., but it does not give any reassurance that any of these people are ever caring and loving.-Judith Constantinides, formerly at East Baton Rouge Parish Main Library, LA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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