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King of the Playground
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Kevin loves to go to the playground, but not when Sammy is there. And Sammy, who boasts that he is King of the Playground, is there most of the time. If he catches Kevin on the swings or the slide or the monkey bars, Sammy says, he will do awful, terrible things to him. Kevin tells his dad what Sammy says and they talk it over. And then one day Kevin gets his courage up and goes to the playground even though Sammy says he can't come in. Even though Sammy tells him to go home. Even though Sammy says he will put Kevin in a cage with bears in it. Will Kevin stay, or will he go home? How will he deal with Sammy?
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PreS-Gr 2-- Sammy, self-proclaimed ``King of the Playground,'' will not let Kevin play on the swings, slide, or monkey bars. Fortunately, Kevin's father, who believes that words are stronger than fists, subtly suggests ways to best the bully, and a friendship between the two boys begins. There are several admirable touches here: the relationship between son and father (shown making soup, washing the car, digging in the garden--no mother is mentioned); the typical reactions of the boys to one another; and the father's humor and gentleness. Malone's pictures are reminiscent of Lillian Hoban's illustrations for Miriam Cohen's ``First Grade'' stories (Greenwillow), with their subdued colors, rumpled T-shirts, and heads just a little too large for the bodies. Kevin, the creatures of his imagination, and Sammy could belong to the same class. A warm, comforting story with a smart solution to a childhood problem. --Suzanne Wolfe, formerly at Shady Side Academy Junior School, Pittsburgh

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