The Meanest Thing to Say
Sooner or later, most children—on the street, the playground, or at school—meet other children who are deliberately mean. When this happens, there are several options for a child who is being picked on. Too often, the picked-on child's immediate response is either to fight back or to attempt a protective retreat. Retreating is preferable since fighting back will certainly escalate the conflict and may result in injury to both children. Not the best solution!
This story presents a sensible alternative course of action. With guidance from his parents, Little Bill learns to cope with a hostile child by controlling his own reactions. At school, he manipulates the confrontation without stooping to being "mean" himself. Heeding his father's advice, he gains the upper hand by saying "So?" to the angry boy's taunts. When Little Bill simply refuses to participate, the nasty name-calling falls flat. His strategy succeeds! Finding that his tactics aren't working, the deflated "mean" kid retreats in embarrassment.
But the story doesn't end there. The "mean" youngster is feeling insecure and lonely himself—perhaps because he is the new boy in his class. As Little Bill reaches out, inviting him to play and be a friend, we learn that even a potential bully, when approached with kindness yet firmness, may yield.
These tactics may not always be practical, but this book shows your child that there are ways to resolve conflicts with other children without loosing face or resorting to violence. In the process, a misbehaving kid may have a chance to change and be welcomed as a friend.
Alvin F. Poussaint, MD
Clinical Professor of Psychiatry
Harvard Medical School and
Judge Baker Children's center
Bill Cosby is one of America's best-loved storytellers, known for his work as a comedian, actor, and producer. Bill Cosby, who grew up in a Philadelphia ghetto and has a Masters Degree and Doctorate in Education from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, is one of the most prominent and influential men in America today. His honest, heartfelt and humorous perceptions of the everyday world have been the basis for his success. His books for adults include Fatherhood, Time Flies, Love and Marriage and Childhood. He lives in New York, New York.
About the Illustrator
Varnette P. Honeywood, a graduate of Spelman College and the University of Southern California, is a Los Angeles-based impressive genre painter. Her work is included in many collections throughout the United States, Japan and Africa and has appeared on adult trade book jackets and in a children's book, Shake It to the One That You Love the Best.
Children and parents can relate to the realistic tone of the stories."
— Sandra Draper, Orange County Register
"There's a vulnerable commonality to Little Bill that many young readers will warm to."
— Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
"Cosby has a good grasp of the issues and how the world looks through children's eyes. The primarily African-American characters also make these books welcome additions to the easy-reader collections."
— Dina Sherman, Brooklyn Children's Museum, NY
"The books' story line and dialog is candid and rings true, while the bold, expressively colored illustrations by Varnette P. Honeywood help keep the reader's interest."
— Commercial Appeal