THE RECESS QUEEN

Alexis O'Neill, Author, Alexis O'Neil, Author, Laura Huliska-Beith, Illustrator , illus. by Laura Huliska-Beith. Scholastic $15.95 (32p) ISBN 978-0-439-20637-2

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. (Feb.)

Reviewed on: 01/21/2002
Release date: 02/01/2002
Hardcover - 32 pages - 978-986-398-031-5
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