Books by Alexis O’Neill

THE WORST BEST FRIEND by Alexis O’Neill
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2008

Longtime best friends Conrad and Mike do everything together: They "ate together / Read together / Played together..." Until Victor joins their class. Their new, big, bold schoolmate brags and blabs and excels at just about everything he tries. As Conrad puts it, "He—is—awesome!" Pretty soon, it's Conrad and Victor who "walked together / Ate together / Played together— / No room for Mike." Huliska-Beith tackles this age-old psychodrama with bright, textured illustrations that incorporate Victor's incessant, pervasive boasting: "Me, Me, Me...Wow, Wow, Wow...Blah, Blah, Blah" swirls around him, Joe Cool sunglasses marking him as the grandstander he is. Environmental print—written details on the blackboard or book titles—adds fizz. A showdown game of kickball convinces Conrad and Mike that winning or losing has nothing to do with being best friends and that loyalty is its own reward. While there's little new in this insight, the message bears repeating, and the delivery in this volume provides plenty of zing. The ending "high five" says it all. (Picture book. 5-8)Read full book review >
ESTELA’S SWAP by Alexis O’Neill
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2002

Estela goes with her father and her brother to the Swap Meet, hoping to earn the ten dollars she needs to pay for folk-dancing lessons by selling a colorful music box that plays Cielito Lindo. After they have set up their stand, her father introduces her to the art of bargaining. Estela handles the customers' offers well, but no one wants to pay anywhere near the price she's asking. When a sudden gust of March wind blows away, all the paper flowers of the friendly woman in a neighboring stand, Estela impulsively gives her the music box that no one has purchased. "Suddenly she knew what she had to do, even if it meant she wouldn't earn any money today." In a surprise ending that careful readers may anticipate, Estela is surprised to receive something wonderful in return. " ‘Since we are at a Swap Meet,' the woman said, ‘it is only fair that we swap.' " Sanchez's (Speak English for Us, Marisol!, not reviewed, etc.) colorful pastels effectively focus attention on the main characters and objects by delineating them clearly, while softening the outlines of the others. Seven Spanish names and expressions are included in a glossary and pronunciation guide on the half-title page, where, unfortunately, they may be overlooked. This well-crafted tale featuring a Mexican-American father and children will be wonderful for reading aloud to individuals or to groups. (Picture book. 6-10)Read full book review >
THE RECESS QUEEN by Alexis O’Neill
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 1, 2001

Positing that bullies only act that way because they're lonely, O'Neill (Loud Emily, 1998) puts seemingly meek, new classmate Katie Sue up against aggressive Mean Jean, swaggering boss of the playground. Knowing but one way to deal with challengers ("she'd push 'em and smoosh 'em, / lollapaloosh 'em, / hammer 'em, slammer 'em, / kitz and kajammer 'em . . ."), Mean Jean roughly tries to set Katie Sue straight on the pecking order. But Katie Sue stands up to her with a cheeky, "How DID you get to be so bossy?" and pulls out a jump rope, inviting Mean Jean to jump along. Presto change-o, a friendship is born. Huliska-Beith's (The Book of Bad Ideas, 2000, etc.) rubbery-limbed figures, rolling perspectives, and neon-bright colors reflect the text's informality as well as its frenzied energy. Though the suggested strategy works far more easily here than it would in real life, young readers will be caught up by Katie Sue's engaging, fizzy exuberance. (Picture book. 7-9)Read full book review >
LOUD EMILY by Alexis O’Neill
ADVENTURE
Released: Oct. 1, 1998

Seven-year-old Emily, a petite child with stentorian pipes, takes ship with whispery Captain Baroo and his "kind but luckless" crew rather than enroll in Miss Meekmeister's School for Soft-Spoken Girls. Soon she's indispensable, bellowing orders into the gale—" ‘AVAST! LUFF HER UP BEFORE WE'RE STOVE!' "—and summoning up friendly whales to steer the ship away from rocks. Ultimately, she finds an even worthier use for her talent, as a human foghorn for her New England hometown. Evoking American Primitive conventions, Carpenter poses stiff, comic wincing figures, clad in early 19th-century dress, in carefully appointed interiors and bustling outdoor scenes. An appealing nautical tale, this will have reflective readers wondering why whales would come to the rescue of a whaling ship, but O'Neill's language has a roll and verve that captures her young heroine's spirit perfectly. (Picture book. 5-8) Read full book review >