The Great Jungle Gym Standoff

Recess book

Golden Books
Catherine McCafferty
Christopher Nowell

The Great Jungle Gym Standoff by Catherine McCafferty and illustrations by Christopher Nowell is a picture book based off of the Recess episode of the same name. It was published by Golden Books and is 24 pages in length.

It was released alongside two other books from Disney's One Saturday Morning: the Disney's Doug book "Doug Gets his Wish" and the Pepper Ann book "Old Best Friend".


T.J. and his friends love Old Rusty, the jungle gym, but one day, Principal Prickly announces that it's going to be torn down in order to build a new jungle gym. The Recess gang can't believe this, and they try to guess how long Old Rusty has been at Third Street School.

When the bell rings, T.J. decides to stay outside and sits on Old Rusty, thinking back on how he used to play on it. When the construction workers arrive, he refuses to get down. Miss Finster comes outside and also orders T.J. to come down, but he refuses. Then the rest of the kids decide to climb on Old Rusty. The construction workers couldn't tear it down then, because tearing down a jungle gym with kids on it was against the rules.

Principal Prickly then calls the kids' parents. However, the parents also remember the times they had on Old Rusty, and join the kids. Soon after, the construction workers and Miss Grotke join them. Both Principal Prickly and Miss Finster give up, letting the jungle gym stand. However, Gretchen tells T.J. that with the combined wieght of everyone on the jungle gym, it will fall. He can't hear her, and as she tries to tell him a second time, it collapses.

The gang are sad that the jungle gym fell, however the construction workers tell them that they can build a brand-new jungle gym just like it. T.J. names it New Rusty, and all the kids jump onto it.

The story flash forwards it to one hundred years later, and kids are still playing on it.

Differences between the episode and book

  • The opening dialogue with Spinelli saying, "Last one on Old Rusty has to give Miss Finster a sponge bath!" and Randall replying, "Hey, that's my job!" was written out.
  • Randall is written out of the book.
  • Gus is absent in the episode, but he was written into the book. Some pages fail to draw him with the rest of the gang, however.
  • T.J. doesn't mention his older brother going to the school. This could be because by the time the book was written, his older brother was written out.
  • The conversation about Mikey's Uncle Mary was cut, possibly for being too "adult".
  • When Spinelli says, "I wonder how long Old Rusty's really been here" right before the 1950s flashback was replaced with her previous line, "Old Rusty was here when my mom was in school".
  • Gus says "I bet Old Rusty's older than that" instead of Mikey.
  • The flashback about how T.J., Vince, Spinelli, Mikey, and Gretchen met at Old Rusty in kindergarten was cut.
  • The scene in the teacher's lounge was removed. Because of this, Miss Grotke doesn't appear until the kids' parents climb onto Old Rusty, and the other teachers don't appear at all.


  • On the cover of the book, T.J. has brown eyebrows. In the book itself, they're black, as they are in the series proper.
  • This is the only Recess book to be released by Golden Books. The others were released by Disney Worldwide Publishing.
  • When Miss Grotke appears in the book, her earrings are light blue pearls instead of silver and trianglaur-shaped.
  • The artwork of T.J. and Spinelli on the cover is directly taken from their poses on their original model sheets, although T.J.'s eyes are changed to be semi-circular like they are in the show instead of the completely spherical ones on his model sheet.

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