cover image Big Mean Mike

Big Mean Mike

Michelle Knudsen, illus. by Scott Magoon. Candlewick, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-4990-6

Big Mean Mike, a dog whose spiked collar and leather jacket signal that he’s a serious tough guy, is mystified when wee, innocent, fuzzy bunnies start appearing in his big, mean car. He’s forced to appear in public with them and must endure the scorn of his friends: “Didn’t figure you for the cute and cuddly type,” one jeers. But Big Mean Mike rises to the occasion without losing any of his meanness: “I can hang out with whoever I want! I like these bunnies.... And they’re adorable! Any of you got a problem with that?” Magoon’s (Chopsticks) blocky Mike and his souped-up ride are appropriately dynamic: Mike’s toothy snarl is often front and center, and his muscle car has orange flames and an exhaust system that belches smoke. Knudsen (Argus) offers an uncompromisingly macho version of the defend-your-friends theme, and its cultural references (combat boots, gym membership) and the inherent humor in seeing the bunnies charm their way into Mike’s heart will keep readers attentive—and laughing. Ages 4–8. Agent: Jodi Reamer, Writers House. Illustrator’s agent: Rebecca Sherman, Writers House. (Aug.)