Two children vie for playground domination.
Donning crowns and formal 18th-century dress, Jonah (pale-skinned with regal black curls) and Lennox (dark-skinned with powerful puffball chignons) plant flags, draw strategic maps, haughtily bark commands, and plot to overthrow each other. The kids in the kingdom acquiesce half-heartedly, occasionally rolling their eyes at the rulers while continuing to frolic. Following these children’s expressive postures, gestures, faces, and bright oval eyes and interpreting their individual reactions to the teeny tyrants is an increasingly enjoyable game. Each double-page spread stretches the elaborate playground panorama (ladders, platforms, slides, steps, tunnels, bridges) before readers’ eyes, properly showing the emotional expanse it occupies in a child’s world. Playgrounds thrum with egos, tears, fury, joy, alliances, betrayals, reconciliations, mutiny, plotting, sieges, companionship, revelry—and rulers. When the kids have had it with Jonah and Lennox’s battles and migrate to a patch of trees, the two deflated monarchs relinquish their thrones and happily unite to forge a peaceable playground. Children struggling with tyrants (or the impulse to dictate) will find both laughter and comfort in Kuefler’s playground, full of recognizable experiences, faces, and feelings.
Winning satire for the jungle-gym set. (Picture book. 3-8)