Written By Alexis O’Neil , Illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beth
Mean Jean runs the playground and no one dares challenge the hierarchy. Every student at Mean Jean’s school has silently accepted the fact that if Jean has not given the go ahead then every ball, jump rope, toy and piece of playground equipment is off limits. In fact,
“Nobody swung until Mean Jean swung.
Nobody kicked until Mean Jean kicked.
Nobody bounced until Mean Jean bounced.
If kids ever crossed her, she’d push ’em and smoosh ’em
lollapaloosh ’em, hammer ’em, slammer ’em
kitz and kajammer ’em.”
One day, however, a new student arrives and dares challenge the system put in place by Mean Jean while ultimately befriends the playground bully, softening her heart and freeing the playground.
A story on bullying, courage and friendship, The Recess Queen is timely and appropriate for today’s generation of students. O’Neil puts a humorous spin on a hard topic while shedding light on an issue that has haunted many generations of students. O’Neil’s crafty, rhythmic writing combined with Huliska-Beth’s colorful and action packed illustrations create a story that is sure to bring enjoyment to its readers while also forcing students to recognize and perhaps even talk about this difficult subject. This story is recommended for ages 3-7 but, of course, the cut off is negotiable. Happy reading!
Reviewed by Carmen Caruthers