From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 2—Mike and Conrad do everything together—until a new kid arrives in their classroom. Victor, a self-involved braggart who excels at sports, captivates Conrad's attention, leaving Mike feeling left out. At recess, Victor declares himself captain for a kickball game and picks only the biggest kids, cruelly telling Conrad he's too small to help the team win. Mike, the other captain, feels bad and chooses Conrad. Ultimately, Conrad apologizes and the boys make up. This tale about the vagaries of young friendship is predictable and a bit slick, and the characters are too lightly drawn for readers to become fully engaged in the story. The brightly colored illustrations move the action along and provide funny details. The cafeteria menu board advertises delicacies like "Chocolate Glazed Carrots" "Humble Pie," and "Broccoli Ice Cream." Kevin Henkes's A Weekend with Wendell
(HarperCollins, 1986), Isabella Hatkoff's Owen & Mzee
(Scholastic, 2006), and George Shannon's Rabbit's Gift
(Harcourt, 2007) are all stronger titles on the topic.—Mary Hazelton, Elementary Schools in Warren & Waldoboro, ME
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The author and illustrator of The Recess Queen (2002) turn here to boys in another action-packed picture book about power plays in the schoolyard. Mike and Conrad are best friends until big, flashy Victor joins the class, and Conrad abandons Mike to hang onto the bragging newcomer. At first kids may have trouble distinguishing who is who in the bright, lively computer graphics. But once it is clear that the small boy is Conrad, the twists and turns reveal the betrayal drama. Mike cannot decide if he is sad or mad, and the pictures show him seething and alone (“no room for Mike”), while on the next page Victor blathers about “Me Me Me.” But then Victor rejects Conrad for his team because Conrad is too small. Mike comes to his friend’s rescue, Conrad is sorry, and the friends high-five each other. A fun read-aloud that preschoolers will want to talk about. Preschool-Kindergarten. --Hazel Rochman