MEANIEHEAD by Bruce Eric Kaplan


Age Range: 5 - 8
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Henry and Eve, the constant complainers from Monsters Eat Whiny Children (2010), are going through a “new, terrible phase.”

The fight is on from the first page, and when the children simultaneously attempt to grab a favored action figure, the defeated one slings the titular moniker at her brother. Kaplan’s subsequent aside asserts the philosophy underpinning his plot: “There’s nothing sillier than fighting about what belongs to whom, but no kids and even fewer adults know that.” It’s an extensive rampage. The diminutive ink-and-watercolor caricatures contrast with sterile, white expanses interrupted by a decapitated doll here, a flattened Grand Canyon there, until all that remains is darkness. The pair’s eyes are unnervingly vacant; emotional intensity is achieved through dramatic mouth or brow lines and rage-purple cheeks. Despite an escalating vengeance that leads to nihilism, actions are contained within black frames. A temporary truce allows time for a snack. The penultimate scene shows two arms reaching for each other—a Michelangelo moment that mirrors the opening toy disaster but has a gentler outcome. (The endpapers, however, hint that the siblings have not completely reformed.)

While most children will be able to relate to the raw frustration that Kaplan so effectively captures, it will take sophisticated readers who are familiar with dark humor to enjoy this over-the-top fable about the consequences of unfettered will. (Picture book. 5-8)

Pub Date: June 10th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4424-8542-6
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1st, 2014


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