cover image King of the Kooties

King of the Kooties

Debbie Dadey. Walker & Company, $15.95 (84pp) ISBN 978-0-8027-8709-5

For fourth-grader Nate Nelson, trying to short-circuit class bully Louisa's mean streak is like ""standing in front of a speeding freight train and trying to stop it with a Ping-Pong ball."" Nate is a shy boy who loves soccer and hates school. Things begin to look up for Nate when a new boy his age, Donald, moves next door. Donald is great at baseball, but he doesn't know how to play soccer or football and his hair is very short and ""stands straight up like a crazy person's,"" making him a sure-fire target for Louisa. She calls him ""Sir Donald, King of the Kooties,"" and as her taunts continue, Nate decides they must put a stop to her cruelty. A series of mildly funny mishaps lead to a pat finale: they kill the bully with kindness. Dadey's (the Bailey School Kids series) predictable plot gets some oomph from the children's credible dialogue, but O'Malley's (Leo the Cockroach, Toy Tester) black-and-white illustrations lack the personality of his picture books. A slight story that delivers no practical solutions. Ages 7-10. (Sept.)