, , illus. by Pascal Lemaître. . Hyperion, $16.99 (48pp) ISBN 978-0-7868-0540-2

"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 Lemaître (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. Lemaître, 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.)