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Arthur and the Meanies    by Jan Fearnley order for
Arthur and the Meanies
by Jan Fearnley
Order:  USA  Can
Trafalgar Square, 2011 (2010)
Hardcover, Softcover
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

Arthur the elephant is a little lonely, so he tries to play with some of the other animals but they refuse his offer. The mean monkeys say, 'You're too big to hang about with us!' The terrible tiger also refuses to play and says, 'You are much too heavy for hopping.' And the persnickety peacock's response is, 'You'll squash us with those enormous feet. Go away.'

Poor Arthur. Now he's feeling really bad. Then he stumbles upon Duck and Frog frolicking in the water, splashing and having all sorts of fun. With trepidation Arthur shyly asks, 'Please, may I play?'

'Yes!' Duck and Frog reply in unison. The three have a lot of fun trumpeting, croaking and quacking about until a big storm comes up. With the rain pouring down, all the animals that have refused to play with Arthur rush to his side and ask if they can seek shelter under his big ears and large body.

Of course Arthur graciously agrees to let them do so and they all promise to let the elephant play with them when the rain stops. Of course when the downpour stops, the animals say, 'No time to hang about!' and off they go leaving Arthur alone with Frog and Duck.

'Selfish lot,' says Frog.
'They didn't even say thank you,' adds Duck.

Then Arthur does something to show the ungrateful animals what he thinks of them. I won't share what that is but let it suffice to say that afterwards they are sorry for being so awful and mean to Arthur.

There are important lessons in this touching tale of how fair weather friends can be very hurtful, but Jan Fearnley manages to get his message across with humor and without being preachy.

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