The Big Idea Gang is buddying up on a new idea for a more welcoming playground in this chapter book series about making a case—and making a difference—by the author of Jigsaw Jones.
The Big Idea Gang is buddying up on a new idea for a more welcoming playground in this chapter book series about making a case—and making a difference.
When third-graders Deon, Kym, Lizzy, and Connor formed the Big Idea Gang, their mission was simply to oust the old mascot in favor of something cooler. But sales from the new mascot paraphernalia have led to extra cash for the PTA, and you can bet this gang has big ideas about how to spend it. A playground pirate ship! An author visit! New basketball hoops! There are lots of ways they can think of to improve their school; but what about a way to make it a kinder, more inclusive place? Luckily, their teacher, Miss Zips, is skilled in the art of persuasion. Armed with Miss Zips's persuasive tips, the Big Idea Gang sets out to build a case for a new-and-improved Clay Elementary, and convince the rest of the school that their idea is the best.
— CHAPTER 1 —
The Best Part of the Day
For Deon Gibson, there was no debate. Only one answer could be correct. Recess was absolutely, positively, 100 percent, totally the best part of the school day. No one could convince him otherwise.
Sure, some kids liked PE best.
They were wrong.
Others kids loved math.
But again, according to Deon, those people were nuts. Sure, those math-loving students might go on to become scientists or computer wizards, but Deon didn’t care.
“Recess is the best part of the school day,” Deon claimed to anyone who’d listen at his Clay Elementary cafeteria table.
“That’s just your opinion,” Kym replied.
“Not opinion, fact!” Deon stated.
“Well, personally, in my opinion, I like reading better.” Kym Park closed her eyes and smiled. “Silent, independent reading. And I love it when Miss Zips reads out loud to us. Ah, pure heaven. I could listen to her read books all day.”
“Reading is okay,” Deon countered. “But you have to sit still and be quiet. That’s so not me. I’m the opposite. At recess, I get to run around and scream my head off. I get to see all my friends. We laugh and joke around. We play ball. Plus”—?he tapped the left side of his chest—?“it’s good for the old ticker.”
Connor O’Malley shoved a fistful of chips into his mouth. He said, “Lunschhh.”
Kym swiveled her head in Connor’s direction. Then she turned to Connor’s twin sister, Lizzy. “What did he say?”
Lizzy O’Malley shook her head. “My brother is trying to say ‘lunch,’ Kym, but Connor’s face is too stuffed with food—?as usual. Connor, could you please swallow your chips before speaking?”
“Shhhorry,” Connor apologized, still chewing.
Deon leaned forward. “I know a guy who tried this trick where he ate ten crackers crazy fast and tried to whistle. You have like thirty seconds to do it. And I’m telling you, it’s impossible—?and it’s hysterical. Crackers were flying everywhere. It was raining Saltines!”
Kym made an ew face.
“Sounds disgusting,” Lizzy said.
“No, trust me, it’s funny,” Deon said. “The crackers absorb all the water in your mouth. Then you can’t whistle.”
Kym frowned. “I can’t whistle at all. Even without crackers.”
“It’s easy,” Connor said. “Just put your lips together and blow.” He let out a whistle that would have made a sparrow proud.
Kym furrowed her brows in concentration. She pushed out her lips to form a tight circle. She puffed out her cheeks.
And nothing happened.
Not a peep.
Not a chirp.
Not a tweet.
“Sad!” Deon snorted.
Kym’s cheeks flushed pink.
“Hey, don’t laugh, Deon,” Lizzy said. “I bet there’s lots of things that Kym can do that you can’t.”
“Yeah, like math,” Connor joked.
“I can do math,” Deon claimed. “I just don’t see the point. Two and two makes four. What more do I need to know?”
Lizzy rose to take her things to the recycling bin. She checked the wall clock. “Well, in one hundred and eighty seconds it will become your favorite time of day.”
Deon looked puzzled.
“Three minutes,” Lizzy said. “Sixty seconds is a minute. Sixty times three is one eighty. That’s when we go outside for recess.” She grinned. “See, Deon. Math isn’t so bad after all. It’s just a question of how you look at it.”
— CHAPTER 2 —
Suri Brewster started the rumor out on the playground. Small and wiry with a wild mass of black hair, Suri joined Lizzy and Kym on the swinging footbridge. The girls held on to chain railings while the bridge rattled and swayed. Connor and Deon circled underneath, groaning and moaning, pretending to be zombies . . . or killer sharks . . . or gruesome trolls . . . or something like that. The girls didn’t pay much attention. They were more interested in Suri’s news.
“So, like, you know my mom is treasurer for the PTA,” Suri began.
Kym and Lizzy nodded. Suri had mentioned it a few dozen times already.
“Well, Mama says there’s a big surplus of money,” Suri claimed. She pushed her purple, pointy glasses closer to her face.
“A big surplus?” Kym asked, unsure of exactly what that meant.
“Extra money,” Suri said. “Tons of it. When we changed our mascot to the Clay Elementary Dragons, we sold, like, easily a bazillion T-shirts, hats, coffee mugs, and sweatshirts with the new logo.”
“A bazillion,” Lizzy murmured. “That’s a lot of T-shirts.”
The moaning from underneath the bridge got louder. “Better run,” Connor and Deon warned in ghoulish voices. Four hands reached up and rattled the bridge. “The zombies are coming for you!”
“Connor, stop!” Lizzy shushed. “We can’t play zombie apocalypse every single day. It gets boring. We’re trying to talk.”
Deon popped up beside the bridge. “We’re not boring. You’re boring.”
“Yeah, what he said,” Connor grumbled.
Kym ignored the boys. She asked Suri, “So what are they going to do with all that money?”
“That’s the amazing thing,” Suri said, bouncing on her toes with excitement. “They want to buy something cool for the school!”
Connor and Deon—?forgetting they were zombies, at least for the moment—?climbed up on the bridge. They were interested.
“How much money does the PTA have?” Connor asked.
“I think it’s easily like a thousand dollars,” Suri sai...
"Preller addresses topics such as kindness, activism, immigration, community involvement, and the dangers of gossip in an approachable way for a young audience...Perfect for kids not quite ready for Wonder."--School Library Journal
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