Arthur and the Meanies by Jan Fearnley

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Arthur and the Meanies by Jan Fearnley

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Keith Dudhnath
Reviewed by Keith Dudhnath
Summary: A fun look at how Arthur the elephant deals with other animals being mean to him. Yes, there are issues for young kids here, but it's still a great read in its own right. Warmly recommended.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: July 2010
Publisher: Egmont
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1405253819

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Arthur the elephant is desperate to play, but the monkeys, Tiger, Peacock and Cheetah all say no. The big meanies. Oh sure, they're happy to be his friend when they want something from him, but as soon as they don't need him any more, they just scamper off and leave him sad. Go on, Arthur, give 'em a soaking! Teach 'em a lesson!

Arthur and the Meanies is an enjoyable tale about making friends and conflict resolution. Kids will learn the important lesson that the best way to deal with anyone who's mean to you is to chuck a load of water over them. (What? It's not?!) Being serious, there is a useful message in there, but it's integral to the plot, rather than being awkwardly hammered home. Children will recognise the hot, angry cheeks that Arthur gets when the other animals don't want to play with him. They'll sympathise and perhaps recognise times when they've done similar or taken advantage of people's good nature. They'll also relish in the fun that all the animals have together when they realise they're better off all playing together.

We really enjoyed Jan Fearnely's illustrations in The Baby Dragon-Tamer and they're as delightful here. The backgrounds are an intriguing mix of collage and ink splodges, with a slightly more regular drawn style for the characters. It's got a real freshness to it, which draws you in and rewards relishing in all that's going on throughout.

The writing is zingy and clear, marrying perfectly with the illustrations. Although it's mostly aimed at kids of playgroup age (when they'd have their own issues of playing together and resolving conflicts to consider) the quality is such that both slightly older and younger children will find plenty to enjoy. Warmly recommended.

My thanks to the publishers for sending it to Bookbag.

The Bear's Water Picnic by John Yeoman and Quentin Blake also features animals realising that they're better off having fun together. If it's elephants you love, check out Elmer and Grandpa Eldo by David McKee. Lively Elizabeth! by Mara Bergman and Cassia Thomas is an interesting look at resolving simple early conflicts - and the rhymes are great too.

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Buy Arthur and the Meanies by Jan Fearnley at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Arthur and the Meanies by Jan Fearnley at


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