Ella McKeen, Kickball Queen

Carolrhoda. Sept. 2019. 32p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781541528970.
K-Gr 2–Ella McKeen is the undisputed kickball champion of the playground field. No one can come close to her legendary kicks, until a new student threatens her reign. When Riya Patel catches a high-flying ball, the whole class cheers, except for Ella. Shocked by this unexpected turn of events, Ella feels a “twisty, turn-y, terrible burning in her chest. Her cheeks get hot, her eyes fill with tears” and she has a meltdown. A full spread shows the pig-tailed sore loser on her knees in the throes of a full-blown tantrum: “NO! THAT’S NOT FAIR!! THAT’S MY BEST KICK!” Her stunned classmates stare in wide-eyed silence. Remorseful, Ella regrets her outburst and apologizes to her rival. A friendly Kickball Queen challenge is struck, and when Ella feels the familiar, jealous fury rise again, she chooses to be a good sport. Mills’s expressive digital illustrations show a diverse classroom grappling with slice-of-life recess situations.
VERDICT Emotions ring true in this relatable story. A good read-aloud choice to spark discussion.

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