Mean Girl: Bad Astrid by Eileen Brennan
SHE CAME INTO TOWN
LIKE FIVE TONS OF BAD LUCK.
A new girl on the street can be a good thing, but one look at the stocky, bellicose Astrid and you just know she's going to be trouble. And right away she gets busy living up to her appearance.
MEANER THAN ANY GIRL
YOU'LL EVER MEET...
SHE AND HER FAMILY
MOVED IN DOWN THE STREET.
Apparently born under a bad star, Astrid goes out of her way to be mean. She rides her bike through sidewalk drawings and tries to run down chipmunks. She charges through front yard flowers and leaves them beheaded, chuckling hoarsely as she plows through. Even her bike helmet sports a skull and crossbones.
Whenever anyone looks like they are having too much fun, Astrid finds a way to spoil it--knocking over the sidewalk lemonade stand in the process of a squirt-gun sneak attack.
Finally our brave narrator has had it with Astrid's meanness. At last she is mad enough to confront the bully when she careens through her popsicle-stick Eiffel Tower and deservedly suffers a spectacular bike encounter with the neighbor's mailbox and lawn gnome.
"HELP! PLEASE?" Astrid moans.
Could this be the right moment to re-negotiate this relationship?
Artist Regan Dunnick takes charge of this story with a comic portrayal of Astrid--a chunky, droopy-eared, be-jowled pooch of a bully with a build like a kitchen stove, all reckless mayhem and mean-girl menace. Astrid is the sort of bully that kids love to hate, but even bullies have feelings, as Eileen Brennan's Bad Astrid (Random House, 2013) suggests in ironic quatrains. This one is a novel approach only in Brennan's choice to deal with girl bullies, playing on the samefamiliar theme as Brandon Mull's Pingo and the Playground Bully (see my May review here) and Matt Davies' Ben Rides On, (reviewed here also in May). Even Mo Willems takes a playful look at the perennial bully problem premise in his newest best-selling beginning reader, A Big Guy Took My Ball! (Elephant and Piggie Book, An) reviewed also in May here. Bullies are a perennial problem, a prominent subject even in primary grade literature, and until all of them mend their errant ways. which will probably happen by approximately the twelfth of NEVER, authors and illustrators are guaranteed plenty of material to work with!