The Meanest of Meanies: A Book About Love

Kristin Hensley and Jen Smedley, illus. by Paul Briggs. HarperCollins, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-304055-7
A purple bipedal monster with aquamarine hair chafes at their mother’s love in this picture book debut by bestselling comedienne duo Hensley and Smedley (#IMomSoHard, for adults). In sometimes arhythmic, slightly cheesy rhymes (“She kisses my forehead/ and puts her cheek next to mine./ As I roll into Sleepytown,/ my heart-lights start to shine”), the authors describe how the first-person narrator’s mother, a monster with matching hair, is “the meaniest of mean.” Mom delivers coffee-breath smooches (“So rude!”), adds “cringey” love notes to the protagonist’s balanced lunches, and enforces bedtime routines. Vibrant digital illustrations by Briggs have a friendly animation-style appeal. The central message doesn’t quite land (“Because being mean... means... I LOVE YOU”), and some jokes seem geared more toward adults than child readers, but parents and children alike will find recognizable situations and attitudes in this gently humorous read. Ages 4–8. (Mar.)
Reviewed on : 04/08/2021
Release date: 03/01/2021
Genre: Children's
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