The Playground Meanies by Alison Reynolds, illustrated by Mikki Butterley (Five Mile Press) HB RRP $14.99 ISBBN 9781760400644
Reviewed by Dianne Bates
The first two things I noticed about this picture book for young children is how inexpensive it is and how beautifully produced. On the cover it reads, ‘All about being kind with Pickle and Bree’ which is what this book and others in the series is all about – teaching children how to have happy and productive relationships with others.
Pickle is a loveable bear and Bree is a high-spirited girl; they are best friends. In this book they appear in a playground to witness two grey bears hogging the equipment. The bears, Howard and Gracie, make fun of Pickle’s feet, also those of his friend Jason. It’s only teasing but both bears feel unhappy. The verbal bullying continues. ‘It isn’t nice to feel there’s something wrong with you,’ Jason says. Pickle roars his displeasure.
At the picnic in the park, there’s more tormenting about the bears’ feet. The two think about using their feet to smash the food but Bree reminds them that basically two wrongs don’t make a right. Happily, in an incident a few moments later, Jason’s big foot saves a situation. It’s then that the teasing bears apologise.
And of course the four have fun playing together after that.
Being mean is never the answer. Of course. This is a lesson that small children (and big) need to learn. That’s what this book and other books in the series is about: using simple, humorous narrative to gently demonstrate a lesson about the value of good manners.
The book is beautifully illustrated with bright, full page illustrations showing the personable characters interacting with one another. Small children aged 4 years and up are sure to be thoroughly engaged by story and illustrations.