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You're Mean, Lily Jean

by Frieda Wishinsky
illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton

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reviews: 2
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siblings, friendship
list price: $19.99
also available: Paperback
published: 2009
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Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

You’re Mean, Lily Jean

Play is such an important part of children’s lives, especially in allowing them the opportunity to resolve problem situations in socially responsible ways.

Carly loves pretending to be different characters, such as knights and pirates, with her big sister, Sandy. When Lily Jean moves in next door, she joins the sisters in their play but right away starts assigning roles to the others. Carly is not even allowed to play unless she’s a baby, cow, or dog. She assumes the parts because she doesn’t want to be left out. However, as soon as “Carly the dog” takes one of Lily Jean’s shoes and buries it in the sandbox, Sandy decides it’s more important for her to play with her younger sister.

What’s special here is how a very common problem in play is worked out in such positive ways. Every time Carly is assigned a poor role, Sandy suggests a better alternative. In addition, Carly never actually says “You’re mean” to Lily Jean. Instead, Carly only thinks that, demonstrating to readers how we can experience certain feelings, but also possess a measure of self-restraint. And when Lily Jean asks at the end to play with the two sisters again, Carly asks her a simple question: “Can you be nice?”

Kady MacDonald Denton’s watercolour illustrations are expressive and engaging, showing the honesty in Lily Jean’s realization of the consequences of her behaviour, as well as the hope that she has in not losing her two new friends.

Source: The Canadian Children's Bookcentre. Fall 2009. Vol.32 No.4.

Canadian Children's  Book Centre
Librarian review

You’re Mean, Lily Jean

Carly always played with her older sister, Sandy. Then Lily Jean moved in next door. The sisters are happy to have a new friend to join their games. But Lily Jean starts taking over. Tired of being bossed around, Carly thinks up a creative way to teach Lily Jean a lesson.With Sandy’s assistance, can she transform a bully into a friend?

Source: The Canadian Children’s Book Centre. Best Books for Kids & Teens. 2010.

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  • Short-listed, OLA Blue Spruce Award
  • Short-listed, Marilyn Baillie Picture Book Award
  • Short-listed, Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Award
  • Short-listed, Shining Willow Award (Saskatchewan Young Readers' Choice)
  • Commended, Toronto Public Library First & Best booklist
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A new picture book that addresses the problem of bossy friends and the struggle to stand up to them.

Sisters Sandy and Carly always play together, but when Lily Jean moves in next door and joins them, everything changes. Now Lily Jean is calling the shots and ordering Carly to be a baby when they play house and a dog when they play king and queen. Although Sandy defends her littler sister, Carly buckles and accepts her roles. But she doesn't like it, and finally finds a way to combat Lily Jean's bullying ways, and turn the tables on her behaviour.

Frieda Wishinsky's simple text packs a poignant punch, as it authentically portrays the world of little girls and their complicated relationships. And Kady MacDonald Denton's exquisite illustrations help emphasize the underlying lessons about empathy, loyalty, and fairness. This fantastic story will serve as a tool for young children and parents to identify the difference between having fun and being bullied — or being the bully.

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Editorial Review

Praise for You're Mean, Lily Jean:

"The world of make-believe can be all-consuming for young people, and this book does a stellar job of exploring this theme without making the squabbles that arise feel petty, inconsequential, or worse, explicitly educational. Lily Jean is mean, but deliciously so." —Quill and Quire, starred review

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About the Authors

Frieda Wishinsky

Frieda Wishinsky is the international award-winning author of over seventy books. She writes picture books, chapter books, novels and nonfiction. Her books have been translated into many languages. Frieda lives in Toronto, Ontario. For more information, visit friedawishinsky.com.
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Kady MacDonald Denton

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