The kids in Matt’s class love to play with Monster Zap cards during recess, but now their principal has banned them, leaving the child scrambling to find a solution for recess despair.
Monster Zap cards seem to be a lot like Yu-Gi-Oh!: tradable cards that children buy, have battles with, and sometimes lose. Since the recess area is a trashy concrete wasteland surrounded by mud, the cards offer one of the only available diversions for the white grade schooler and his multiracial friends. Mr. Leon, the principal, isn’t unsympathetic; he just sees that the cards cause conflicts of their own. Matt, inspired by his innovative and creative black teacher, comes up with a plan to bring back the cards—but in a constructive way that even leads to both a cleanup of the playground and a return of a limited amount of other recess activities. All of this problem-solving is presented in a story suitable for readers just transitioning to chapter books, so Whamond has supplied plenty of appealing, cartoonlike, black-and-white illustrations to accompany the simple, large-print text. The tale is action-driven with little room for character development, but the reasonably believable kid-initiated resolution is satisfying enough to render that immaterial.
A good choice for emergent readers who might like to promote improvements to their schools. (Fiction. 6-9)