- File Size: 14005 KB
- Print Length: 177 pages
- Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers; Reprint edition (October 7, 2014)
- Publication Date: October 7, 2014
- Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
- Language: English
- ASIN: B00IBHSA2O
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Not Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,469,427 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc
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Mean Margaret Kindle Edition
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About the Author
Jon Agee is the illustrator of a large collection of children’s picture books, such as Little Santa, The Other Side of Town, Nothing, and most notably the National Book Award–nominated Mean Margaret. He lives in San Francisco with his wife.
"Seidler gives his sly sense of silliness full rein. John Agee infuses his black-and-white drawings with great comic energy.", The New York Times Book Review
"Chock-full of hilarious episodes taht will have middle graders rolling in the stacks, this is an ideal choice for booktalking.", School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW --This text refers to the hardcover edition.
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We have multiple copies at the High School as well as all his other books, but who knows when we will get back there.
I have the audiobook version which I can .zip up and send you al link to download it.
I am a huge champion of this book. Years ago it was randomly picked a part of a big pile of kids audiobooks we took out for our annual road trip to New Hampshire.
The combination of having 3 kids and being a children's librarian has brought me into contact with thousands of kids' books. With most things in life some books are better than others, some will never last the test of time and some are destined to be classics.
I am not sure if Mean Margaret will ever get enough attention to become canon for school libraries however it deserves to be. Most literature that is fed to kids is pap! Far too many are sugary sweet and deliver their messages as smoothly as butter on a hot piece of toast. This is one of the reasons kids respond so well to Roald Dahl books, Captain Underpants, Shel Silverstein, and even Doctor Seuss. They don't treat them like little idiots. They are filled with not only the heart but sly humor and easter eggs for both adults and children to find. This is probably why most of these authors always end up on the annual banned book list each year (yes, everyone loves Dr. Seuss until he speaks up about environmentalism (The Lorax) or Fascism (Yertle the Turtle.)
I guess the point I am trying to make is that Mean Margaret is one of those books which really starts our very traditional and is reminiscent of E.B. White. but as the book goes on it turns more Roald Dahl. I was so pleasantly surprised by the updated "frog and toad" verbal wordplay and friendship between the main character (who is not Mean Margaret but a groundhog named Fred) and his very cranky erstwhile pal a Snake. And as the book progresses you start to realize how sly the author is building a very humanistic and inclusive world around the very complicated emotional lives of all the animals in the forest.
This is really not a spoiler but It is the human characters who are the deeply flawed ones here (what a surprise right?). Gluttony, alcoholism, absent parenting, a group of family members who steal off with their youngest member and unceremoniously dump her in a ditch by the forest hoping she will get eaten by a bear or meet some equally gruesome end.
This is the point that more conservative parents and librarians throw the book into the "burn, ban and ignore" pile which is a shame. First off kids (and adults) lead messy, imperfect lives. The real joy of literature and most good art is the universal nature of the human experience which is being reflected back at us. Margaret is from a family of nine children. In order to get any attention or even her fair share of food, she resorts to abysmal behavior, shrieking, grabbing, and making all her sibling's lives miserable in her attempts to get her feelings across, which let's face it is how we real-world adults and kids act. When faced with such a horrible family member wouldn't you lie to plot a way to get rid of them?
But don't worry. It's a book for kids so you know there are lessons which are going to be learned by both the human and animals who populate this world. Kids will do a few double takes during this book which will give them a "did that really happen" shock. Did that fat German kid really get sucked down a pipe towards an incinerator (oops wrong book...however right feeling.). Margaret is awful. You want her to get eaten by a bear. Fred is a very wound up little guy who would be quite at home living in the west village sipping expresso and attending book signings by notable European authors and returning to his lux-modern apartment filled with Scandinavian modern furniture (and I am not talking IKEA here.). He too needs to break out of his shell and really expand his own limited world view.
So do you think this is really going to happen? No spoilers here. While there are some Mean humans, a really uptight groundhog, and snake and a wonderful collection of earnest animals who wear their hearts out on their sleeves. It's a classic battle of diverging philosophies who unlike us humans of the real world find themselves opened up to life's true possibilities through the honest and moral behavior of others.
I remember reading someone's description of what it meant to be a Mod in 1960's England. "Clean living under difficult circumstances!" I am sure Fred would empathize fully with this sentiment.
P.S. I was only going to write you a few sentences about the book to peak your interest. Since I wrote so much I guess this will be my first post on Amazon.
I figured full disclosure is the best way to go. I loaned this book out to a teaching colleague with my assurance that this was a wonderful book that will really not only engage the students but be an interesting read aloud as well.
Upon returning the book to me, I notice that they seem to look at me as one who has questionable tastes and perhaps a very skewed moral center.
I'm not sure "Mean Margaret" is actually the best title for this book as Margaret is not the main character, nor is the story really about her, but she is indeed the antagonist. The book concerns Fred, a woodchuck, and his search for a mate. His eventual marriage to the woodchuck Phoebe brings up the talk of children, which Phoebe loves and Fred hates, putting her off with lame excuses the next day they find a human child outside their burrow. Sally, renamed Margaret by the woodchucks, is the ninth child of the Hubble's, a fat lazy couple with progressively ruder and wilder children. Toddler Sally takes the cake though and no one but a mother could love her. Sharing room with siblings 6, 7, & 8, they plot to drop her off far away in the woods one night to hopefully never have to contend with her again. Such then, is the story of how Phoebe takes in this mannerliness, self-centred child to look after and care for and love as only a mother can love. Along with Fred and Phoebe are a cast of their animal friends including Skunk, Snake, Squirrel, Mr & Mrs Bat & Phoebe's sister with her own three young children. The story mainly takes place amongst the animals in the forest but does switch to the human Hubble family a few times.
This is a lovable, dear comedy where nearly everyone learns a life lesson by the end of the book. Fred and Phoebe are wonderful animal characters and anyone who enjoys this type of animal fantasy will certainly like this book. There are most definitely touches of Roald Dahl in Seidler's humour as his dark humour is laced with a witty meanness that makes this as much a fun read for adults as children. The artwork by Agee is plentiful and reminded me of William Steig in style. A funny story, touching and heartwarming at times, while giggle producing at others. Not exactly a fast-paced story but one to enjoy at its own leisurely pace. This read makes me want to re-read "A Rat's Tale" the only other Seidler book I've read, and go on to reading his other books.