cover image Marlene, Marlene, Queen of Mean

Marlene, Marlene, Queen of Mean

Jane Lynch, with Lara Embry and A.E. Mikesell, illus. by Tricia Tusa. Random, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-385-37908-3

Glee star Lynch teams up with Embry, a clinical psychologist who is her former spouse, and writer Mikesell for a story about the turnaround of a mean girl. Though the tale’s verse doesn’t always shine (“She’d stand on a chair/ to gloom and to glare,/ making everyone feel really tense”), it has other virtues. Instead of an adult savior, a fellow student named Big Freddy figures out how Marlene’s bullying works: “We cringe and we cower/ and give her our power/ because we all think/ she’s in charge!” United in peaceful resistance, the kids call Marlene’s bluff. And even after her reform, Marlene doesn’t transform overnight: “Her kindness can slide/ and her tone can be snide/ because her change is so recent.” Tusa (It’s Monday, Mrs. Jolly Bones) makes Marlene’s huge pink hair bow a comic symbol of her malice. It sails provocatively above her head as she stares down a group of children, droops as she realizes her classmates are on to her, then wilts altogether. A discussion opener that provides those at the mercy of bullies with a new perspective on their adversaries. Ages 3–7. (Sept.)