Oh, would that all bullying problems could be solved so easily! Mean Jean is the reigning Recess Queen, pushing and smooshing, hammering and slammering the other kids whenever they cross her. And then one day a puny new girl shows up on the playground and catches Mean Jean completely off-guard. Not only is little Katie Sue not the least bit intimidated by the bully, she actually asks her to jump rope with her. In no time flat, Jean and Katie Sue are best buddies, and the playground is safe for all again.
Sure, it's simplistic, but there's a strong element of truth in this energetic rhyming story by Alexis O'Neill (Loud Emily). Bullies are people, too, and sometimes nothing is quite so effective as ingenuous disarmament. Big, bold, funny acrylic and collage illustrations by Laura Huliska-Beith (The Book of Bad Ideas) bounce right along with the text. (Ages 5 to 8) --Emilie Coulter
From Publishers Weekly
A schoolyard bully is enlightened by the new kid in class in this lively story about the power of kindness and friendship. "Mean Jean was Recess Queen/ and nobody said any different," the tale begins. Each day at recess, Mean Jean blasts through the playground and her cowering classmates so that she can kick, swing and bounce before anyone else. No one dare cross her path: "She'd push 'em and smoosh 'em, lollapaloosh 'em." But when tiny Katie Sue, a new student, arrives, all bets are off. Unaware of the playground hierarchy, the new girl enthusiastically kicks, swings and bounces before the Recess Queen gets the chance. Her role usurped, Mean Jean moves toward a meltdown, until Katie Sue makes her an offer she finds difficult to refuse: an invitation to play together. O'Neill's (Loud Emily) text brims with fun-to-say phrases that fit a rollicking rhythm, and her assessment of recess dynamics feels authentic. Huliska-Beith's (The Book of Bad Ideas) memorable Jean busts out of the pages, all sneer, bluster and freckles. Swirling perspectives in the gouache-and-collage artwork provide a sense of movement and largesse. And humorous details, such as steam coming from Mean Jean's ears, or her bouncing another child like a ball, playfully convey the underlying drama of the situation. Ages 3-7.
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