Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Siege at the Swing Set! Rulers of the Playground by Joseph Kuefler

One morning Jonah decided to become Ruler of the Playground.

"I am now King. Obey me and I will let you play in my kingdom."

Who knows why someone decides to be Emperor of All He Surveys! Ask Napoleon.

The other kids are bemused, perplexed, and speechless. They didn't know they needed a King. But the big slide is in Jonah's domain, so they pinkie-swear their allegiance.

But among his uneasy subjects there resides a rebel.

Everyone played in King Jonah's Kingdom...

Except for one--Lennox. She wanted to rule.

Lady Lennox mounts a rebellion. She seizes the big swings and declares them her realm. She calls upon all of those who wish to swing to declare fealty to Queen Lennox of the Swing Set. She decrees that all her citizens cross their hearts and promise loyalty.

It's a stalemate in the Great Land of Free Play. Their fiefdoms are divided. Maps are drawn with firm borders lest one subject trespass. Both sovereigns draw up Plans for Conquering and blueprints for walls and tunnels. They carry out small incursions to conquer prized areas. The teeter-totter is first to fall, and then. treachery--Augustine's dog, Sir Hamilton Humphrey Hildebrand III, is taken hostage.

The peasants are growing restless. The plebs are plotting revolt, and the tyrants decide it's time for a truce, in Joseph Kuefler's Rulers of the Playground (Balzer and Braym 2017).

In a humorous spoof of the urge to rule, Kuefler's characters replicate history in his Great Playground Takeover saga. Kuefler's characters are delineated by their varied costumes. Jonah and Lennox affect medieval garb, robes and crowns, as their subject begins to separate into factions, waving their banners, and it looks like there is going to be a rumble at the jungle gym--or a mass emigration from both realms.

Uneasy are the heads that wear the crown. Who knew monarchy was so complicated? Jonah and Lennox see that it's about time to for peace to reign in the Land of the Playground. This story is a nifty bit of spoofery, executed in charming mixed media drawings, with just a bit of a worthy treatise on human nature at its core. Says Kirkus in their starred review, "... a sly reminder that being in charge isn’t always as fun as it looks."

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