Recess Queen
by O'Neill, Alexis; Huliska-Beith, Laura (ILT)

Mean Jean is the biggest bully on the school playground until a new girl arrives and challenges Jean's status as the Recess Queen. By the author of Loud Emily.

ALEXIS O'NEILL's all-time favorite game at recess was kickball. She also loved kick-the-can, hide-and-seek, and red rover, but she wasn't fond of dodge ball (ouch!). Alexis is grateful for the loyal, true-blue friends she has in her life. She lives in Southern California with her best, best friend (who has never ever been her worst best friend)-her husband, David, a computer wiz who makes her laugh.
LAURA HULISKA-BEITH was an enthusiastic "hopper" in the schoolyard, where she was often found playing hopscotch and jumping rope. A not-so-big kid, and now a not-so-big grown up, Laura lives in Kansas City, Missouri, with her four best, best friends (yes, she believes you can have four best, best friends): her husband Jeff, and their three dogs Roxy, Chloe, and Jake.

Ages 3-6. Mean Jean is the playground bully ("she pushed kids and smooshed kids, / lollapalooshed kids, / hammered 'em, slammered 'em, / kitz and kajammer 'em"). No one can stand up to her, until new kid Katie Sue arrives. Freckled, bespectacled, pig-tailed Katie Sue asks the bully to jump rope and be her friend ("I like ice cream / I like tea, / I want Jean to / jump with me!"), and everything changes. OK, kids know that schoolyard power games aren't that easily solved, but they'll enjoy seeing the bully as needy, and they will recognize how everything can suddenly shift. The physicalness of the words makes the wild nonsense rhyme great for reading aloud and joining in, and the brilliantly colored, computer-generated art captures the yelling playground mayhem that's both scary and wonderful. ((Reviewed March 1, 2002)) Copyright 2002 Booklist Reviews

Positing that bullies only act that way because they're lonely, O'Neill (Loud Emily, 1998) puts seemingly meek, new classmate Katie Sue up against aggressive Mean Jean, swaggering boss of the playground. Knowing but one way to deal with challengers ("she'd push 'em and smoosh 'em, / lollapaloosh 'em, / hammer 'em, slammer 'em, / kitz and kajammer 'em . . ."), Mean Jean roughly tries to set Katie Sue straight on the pecking order. But Katie Sue stands up to her with a cheeky, "How DID you get to be so bossy?" and pulls out a jump rope, inviting Mean Jean to jump along. Presto change-o, a friendship is born. Huliska-Beith's (The Book of Bad Ideas, 2000, etc.) rubbery-limbed figures, rolling perspectives, and neon-bright colors reflect the text's informality as well as its frenzied energy. Though the suggested strategy works far more easily here than it would in real life, young readers will be caught up by Katie Sue's engaging, fizzy exuberance. (Picture book. 7-9) Copyright Kirkus 2001 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved

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