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About the Author
Beth Mills had a very boring job that didn't involve any art before she decided she'd much rather draw and write things for kids. Beth studied illustration at the Academy of Art University, where she learned how much she loves creating characters and giving them interesting stories. Beth also likes bright colors, fun shapes, and experimenting with all kinds of art. Beth lives in Texas with her family and far too many cats and dogs.
"When a new girl shows up at school with kickball skills rivaling Ella McKeen's, Ella learns how to tolerate the challenge to her queendom. Everyone knows that when Ella kicks the ball, you get out of the way. 'Her kicks have never been caught.' Whether it's the 'zinger, ' the 'bouncer, ' or the 'bomb, ' Ella's kicks send everybody running. But one day, the new girl, Riya Patel, races toward the falling ball. When she actually catches it, everyone cheers--except for Ella, who doesn't handle the disappointment very well. In fact, she dissolves into a crying, screaming fit right there on the field. Everyone stares. She thinks about this moment for the rest of the day. The next day, when they're heading out for recess, Ella opens up to Riya, apologizing for her behavior and explaining her surprise. The two form a friendly rivalry that promises to continue beyond the book's cliffhanger end. Ella's physical and emotional feelings are well-described and utterly recognizable. Her tantrum makes readers stop in their tracks, and her turnaround is believable enough to satisfy. Clean, expressive illustrations use white space, perspective, and display type to enhance the experience. Ella, white-presenting with long ponytails, wears overalls, and dark-skinned South Asian Riya wears skirts and leggings. Readers will close this emotionally intelligent book with strong feelings--and will likely ask to hear it again and again."--Kirkus Reviews--Journal
"Ella McKeen is the undisputed kickball champion of the playground field. No one can come close to her legendary kicks, until a new student threatens her reign. When Riya Patel catches a high-flying ball, the whole class cheers, except for Ella. Shocked by this unexpected turn of events, Ella feels a 'twisty, turn-y, terrible burning in her chest. Her cheeks get hot, her eyes fill with tears' and she has a meltdown. A full spread shows the pig-tailed sore loser on her knees in the throes of a full-blown tantrum: 'NO! THAT'S NOT FAIR!! THAT'S MY BEST KICK!' Her stunned classmates stare in wide-eyed silence. Remorseful, Ella regrets her outburst and apologizes to her rival. A friendly Kickball Queen challenge is struck, and when Ella feels the familiar, jealous fury rise again, she chooses to be a good sport. Mills's expressive digital illustrations show a diverse classroom grappling with slice-of-life recess situations. VERDICT Emotions ring true in this relatable story. A good read-aloud choice to spark discussion."--School Library Journal--Journal