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The Recess Queen

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  3,378 ratings  ·  493 reviews
A fresh & original twist on the common issue of bullying. Kids will relate, & parents & teachers will appreciate the story's deft handling of conflict resolution (which happens w/o adult intervention)

Mean Jean was Recess Queenand nobody said any different.Nobody swung until Mean Jean swung.Nobody kicked until Mean Jean kicked.Nobody bounced until Mean Jean bounced.If kids
Hardcover, 32 pages
Published February 1st 2002 by Scholastic Press (first published January 1st 2002)
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Average rating 4.19  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,378 ratings  ·  493 reviews

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NS- Sarah
Nov 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I simply love this story about Mean Jean the Recess Queen! There is a bully and her name is Mean Jean. It is known by all kids that when on the playground, "Nobody swung until Mean Jean swung. Nobody kicked until Mean Jean kicked. Nobody bounced until Mean Jean bounced." But there world is forever changed when a new students arrives by the name of Katie Sue. Katie Sue isn't aware of these unspoken rules so she starts kicking, bouncing, swinging and playing on the playground. When Mean Jean threa ...more
Tom Bochnak
Mar 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a shocking book only because it handles bullying in a new, unique way. I imagine there are A LOT of books about bullies in picture books, and there's a good reason for that. However, they usually just fall flat on their face with their message. This book approaches the issue in a unique way because Katie Sue stood up to her bully with kindness instead of violence.

The book would also be easy to read for beginning readers because there's a lot of repetition. The onomatopoeias might be har
(NS) Panagiota Angelos
The Recess Queen is a story about a bully named Mean Jean that terrorizes kids on the playground. When it comes to recess time, nobody messes with Mean Jean. “Nobody swung until Mean Jean swung. Nobody kicked until Mean Jean kicked.” But things change when a new student arrives named Katie Sue. When the recess bell rings, Katie Sue does as she pleases. She didn’t know about Mean Jean and “her rules.” When Mean Jean confronts Katie Sue, she does something none of the other kids have done before…s ...more
NSAndrew Liebergen
Oct 29, 2009 rated it it was amazing
The Recess Queen is an interesting story about a bully and a small new kid. This is a great book for discussions on teasing and bullying. A topic much needed in schools today. The students have an opportunity to discuss what really defines a bully. I also think that a teacher could use the book to discuss Mean Jean’s feelings and why she acts the way she does. I think this book demonstrates a great lesson in positive attitude and not judging a book by its cover.
On another note, I cannot describ
Aug 30, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shelves: no-no-no, 2015, storybook
Oh boo-hoo the poor, hard-done-by bully... wait what?!?

The book implies that Jean is a bully because no one will play with her. The reality is more likely that no one will play with her because she is a bully.

The author seems to buy into the myth that bullies are hard-done-by individuals with poor self esteem. That might be true in a few cases. From what I have read, however, bullies are often bullies because they have a huge sense of entitlement and an unhealthy over estimation of their own 'g
Joecel Franco
Mean Jean is a young girl who is very popular to her school because of being mean. All of her classmates are very hesitant to play with her because they are all afraid of her. All of a sudden, a new student named Katie Sue arrived to their school and she did every activities first before Mean Jean. All of a sudden, Katie Sue befriended Mean Jean and these two girls became best friends.

We encountered a lot of bullies as we grow older. There are a lot of way to deal with the bully but the author
Nov 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I absolutely like this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a great picture book. The illustrations make the book even more interesting. The illustrations are so well drawn and colorful. There is a bully at school named, "Mean Jean." All the students are scared of her and they don't bounce until she bounces. They don't swing until she swings. They don't jump until she jumps. However, that all changed when a new kind came to school. The new kid was tiny and small. She didn ...more
Alyssa Cool
The Recess Queen is a very bright picture book that follows a bossy elementary school student around the playground at recess. The recess queen plows through all of the students on the playground as if she does not care. All of the students on the playground are scared of the recess queen and no one stands up to her. One day there’s a new kid at school, and she confidently stands up to the recess queen not knowing she has a reputation. In the end relationships form and the playground is peaceful ...more
Bright, colorful illustrations accompany rhyming text in this classic bullying tale. Mean Jean bullies everyone and no one does anything about it. Finally, a new kid moves to town and she stands up to Jean. While it's an overdone trope, it is an important issue and this book will get kids thinking and talking about it. A nice conversation starter for lower elementary age kids. If you read this to your kids, please just be careful not to let the impression stand that all kids who bully do so beca ...more
Sep 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Standing up to bullies.
May 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Great book about why people are mean and how to make a new friend.
Feb 27, 2017 rated it liked it
Nobody questions Mean Jean the Recess Queen! Find out what happens when a new girl joins the class on the playground.
(Sometimes, the pictures are almost more entertaining than the story.)
Cassandra Collins
Feb 01, 2015 rated it liked it
The Recess Queen by Alexis O'Neill is about a elementary student named Mean Jean. Mean Jean frightens the other children so that they will not play until she plays. Then comes a little girl named Katie Sue. Katie Sue doesn't listen to Mean Jean's rules and plays anyway. Mean Jean is angered by this until Katie Sue asks her to play together. From then on Mean Jean got along with the other kids.

This books carries a great message to younger kids. Bullying is in issue present in elementary school, a
Oct 26, 2009 rated it really liked it
Friendship is the true meaning behind this story. The social context in this story revolves around a little girl named Jean that is the big bully at the school. No one dares stand up to her, especially on the playground - that is until a new student comes to school. Usually Mean Jean is the first to do everything during recess. Unaware of "Mean Jean" and her ways, the new girl Ruth Sue comes to school and breaks all of her rules. Mean Jean is ready to fight Ruth Sue, but after marching up to her ...more
Jaclyn Giordano
Feb 21, 2010 rated it liked it
The Recess Queen by Alexis O’Neill and Laura Hulisk-Beith is a picture book intended for readers in preschool through grade three. I gave it three stars. “Mean Jean always got her way. Until one day…” Mean Jean was queen of the elementary school yard, always bossing kids around, never one with any friends. The new girl in school, quiet Katie Sue, gets the best of Mean Jean, as Katie Sue is the first, the best, the new one in charge on the playground. Mean Jean reacts to Katie Sue’s invitation t ...more
Tori Webster
Sep 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wow-books
"The Recess Queen" is a book filled with rhyming and rhythm that empowers children to be kind to others, even when they don't seem so kind.
This book could be used to teach about author's craft, specifically how the author uses a rhythm to tell the story as well as repetition. It would also be a good book to use for character education as the new student (Katie Sue) chooses to be kind to "Mean Jean" and gets her to play with her towards the end of the story. This story shows how being kind to oth
Mary-Vaughan Spruill
Nov 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wow-books
"The Recess Queen" tells the story of Mean Jean and how she is a bully during recess. All the other children are scared of Mean Jean and never want to play with her; then, Katie Sue, a new girl comes to school. Katie Sue continues to ask Mean Jean to play with her at recess, finally, Mean Jean is not so mean anymore. She finally has a friend and does not bully her classmates anymore. This book is a WOW book to me, because I love that Mean Jean finds a friend and is no longer mean. This story wou ...more
Nov 09, 2009 rated it really liked it
this book is to show you that sometimes poeple can change and some poeple can not.this book is about a kid that is the recess queen and she does not let anyone kick untill she kicks. she does not let kids swing untill she swings. everything changed untill a new girl came to her school .this girl did not know the queens rules. when she heared the bell ring she ran like lightnig. she was faster then the recess queen. the rcess queen ran after her to tell her about the rules and when the recess que ...more
Reading Level: K-3rd grade
Mean Jean, the recess queen is the playground bully at school. Told in fun rhyming poetic form, "she'd push em and smoosh em, lollapaloosh em," it looks at the reason she bullies and one new girl's actions that change that. I loved the illustrations - so fun and a perfect complement to the fun text. It takes the issue of bullying and presents a possible solution for young children in a really fun way! You could use this in the classroom and create your own rhyming class
Nov 13, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Wow, I actually read this ten years ago. I was in 1st grade then. I'll be a junior in high school in the fall. Wow, that's really weird to think. Time flies.
I think I will reread this, for nostalgic purposes.
Sep 17, 2015 rated it liked it
This book made me laugh, and I loved that about it. I thought that this Queen Jean character was going to be mean the whole time but the way the book ended was just adorable. I think any book for children needs to have great illustrations to catch the eye for the students, just like this book.
Aug 11, 2009 rated it really liked it
This book would be great to instruct on bullies in the classroom. I liked the way it handled the issue without labeling the children.
Heather Sands
Apr 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This cute and enticing children's story is a very fun read for kids and for adults too! It starts off with a scary main character named Mean Jean. She is the queen of recess and wouldn't let any of the other kid play until she played first. All of the other kids during recess were scared of Queen Jean and did not want to play with her. Then a new student named Katie Sue comes to school and when the bell rings, she runs to the playground and immediately starts playing. Everyone is shocked and the ...more
Eliza Claire
Mar 05, 2021 rated it it was amazing

The plot of the recess queen by Alexis O’Neill is there is a girl Jeanie who bullies the other students and always gets to go first and make the rules on the playground. Nobody ever gets to argue with her because she is always right and she gets her way every single time. This makes the other students miserable during recess and scared. Then a new girl Katie comes in, and she is teeny tiny. However she doesn’t know of Jeanies reputation therefore she is unafraid of Jeannie. By simply asking do
Mar 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: picture-books
The Recess Queen is a picture book depicting "Mean Jean" as she bullies her way through the recess playground, with no one brave enough to say anything different. "Nobody swung until Mean Jean swung. Nobody kicked until Mean Jean kicked." The "tiny new kid" Katie Sue makes her debut, and pays no attention to what Mean Jean has to say, playing what she wants and having an exciting time. Mean Jean then "pushes and smooshes" her way through her classmates to confront the naive Katie Sue, "hammering ...more
Jorye Harris Perry
A realistic fiction book that tells the story of how the playground bully had a change of heart. Everyone knew that Mean Jean was the recess queen and nobody did anything until Mean Jean did it first. But one day everything changes for Mean Jean. There is a new kid on the block named Katie Sue who did not know anything about Mean Jean's rules This of course ruffles Mean Jean's feathers and she decides to confront Katie Sue. The last thing Mean Jean expected was for Katie Sue to talk back. No one ...more
Katie Langley
Oct 14, 2019 added it
Shelves: 1-20
The Recess Queen is a story about a girl named Mean Jean. She has been crowned the recess queen, and all the other students on the playground listen to her. However, one day a new girl named Katie Sue shows up. She’s very quiet and small, however when recess came around she played and didn’t pay any mind to Mean Jean. Mean Jean goes after Katie Sue, but Katie Sue defended herself and didn’t listen to Mean Jean. The story ends with Katie Sue asking Mean Jean if she wants to play jump rope
Kajsa Jonsson
Oct 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This story is about Jean who is also known by the name “Recess Queen”. During recess, Jean is very mean, both physically and mentally, to her classmates. She decides when, how and if anyone could play with the different things on the schoolyard. However, one day, a new girl starts in her class who is not afraid of Jean and does not do as Jean wants. Jean is not used to that which makes her unsure of how to respond and this all leads up to a friendship between these two girls.

Major themes
Jan 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: picturebooks
Meet Mean Jean, the Recess Queen. She is always first. First to play ball. First to jump on the hopscotch field. First to swing. And if anyone gets in her way, she will push them and smoosh them, lollapalosh them, hammer them, slammer them, kitz and kajammer them; bullying her way to be first in every game and activity. Until one day Katie Sue, the teeny, tiny new girl comes to school. Katie Sue jumps, she swings, she kicks, and bounces, all before Mean Jean can. When Mean Jean goes to confront ...more
Meagan Mooney
Oct 07, 2019 rated it liked it
This book was such a fun goofy children’s book that brought in nicknames and silliness. Mean Jean was the ruler of recess! This book was catchy, and the illustrations were so child friendly. Rhyming always keeps us involved too in reading a book! This book brings in the perspective of new students and a bully, which are parts of school unfortunately. This book though has bright colors to take away from a negative topic to turn this book into a positive outlook. I suggest all students learn about ...more
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Alexis O'Neill grew up in Boston and Wakefield, Massachusetts. She earned a Ph.D. in Teacher Education from Syracuse University. She teaches writing for the UCLA Extension Writers' Program and was a Regional Advisor for the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators (SCBWI) in the Central-Coastal region of California.
She has also been educator and consultant for a number of musea: Erie Cana

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