by Alexis O’Neill and illustrated by Laura Huliska-Beith
Publisher: Scholastic 2002
Opening and Synopsis; “MEAN JEAN was Recess Queen and nobody said any different. Nobody swung until Mean Jean swung. Nobody kicked until Mean Jean kicked. Nobody bounced until Mean Jean bounced.”
Mean Jean held a reign of terror in the playground, where other kids hardly dared breathe let alone play, unless Mean Jean said they could. Mean Jean’s reign is jeopardized the day the oblivious, confident new kid, Katie Sue, arrives at school. As you can imagine, Jean was not amused and was not prepared to give up her place of Recess Queen without a fight. But Katie Sue, as sassy as can be, finds a way to turn that bully’s heart right around!
Why do I like this book? The language in this book will fair bounce the book right out of your hands! It skips and sings and jumps from page to page and is FUN to read aloud. From that opener, can’t you just picture MEAN JEAN? Laura Huliska-Beith does a fabulous illustrative job of mean expressions on Jean’s face and the sassiness in Katie Most of all, I love how it takes just one kid who is secure in her identity not just to challenge, but to befriend the bully. Bullying is a serious subject and this book doesn’t make light of it, but due to the humour, I believe it helps open up the subject for discussion in an effective way. This is a book that shows that bullies may nor be what they seem and they may need friends, as well as possible confrontation, too. I think it is a book that can help reduce fear about playground bullying. It is great that it is a child, not an adult, that finds the solution.
Activities/Resources: This leads in perfectly into a discussion on strategies to deal with bullying and the genuine fear that can cripple us when faced with those bullies.