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In Review

By Elizabeth Wroten

Chapter Book Review: Lola Levine Is Not Mean by Monica Brown

On 02, Dec 2015 | In Review | By Elizabeth Wroten

Lola LevineLola Levine Is Not Mean written by Monica Brown, pictures by Angela Dominguez

From Goodreads: Lola loves writing in her diario and playing soccer with her team, the Orange Smoothies. But when a soccer game during recess gets “too competitive,” Lola accidentally hurts her classmate Juan Gomez. Now everyone is calling her Mean Lola Levine!

Lola feels horrible, but with the help of her family and her super best friend, Josh Blot, she learns how to navigate the second grade in true Lola fashion–with humor and the power of words.

This would make a great addition to any chapter book collection! Lola is a great character with an awesome family. I’m trying to add more girl sports books to our collection and this ticks that box perfectly too (I had some requests for books about soccer and Alex Morgan from a couple of my second grade girls a few weeks ago).

What I liked best about the sports aspect was that while it drove the plot with Lola accidentally hurting a classmate’s ankle during a recess game of soccer, the real focus of the story was not on playing soccer. It was a friendship story and a getting-along story. Lola’s classmates start to tease her for being too into soccer and too competitive and she has to navigate that situation.

Lola is also Peruvian (I don’t think we have any books with Peruvian characters in our collection yet!) and her heritage plays a role in her home life. It felt very organic instead like the culture was tacked on or being trumpeted in order to check off a diversity box.

Did I mention she has an awesome family? Lola’s parents get her. They understand her and they love her. It’s like Clementine’s parents. Which is especially refreshing when the teachers and principal at school clearly don’t understand her, expect her to fit into a box they think all girls should fit, and punish her for being who she is (a huge pet peeve of mine in books and real life). Lola is also by turns irritated and tolerant of her brother. They have what appears to be a healthy sibling relationship.

The book doesn’t have a Lexile level assigned to it, but it’s not too difficult of a book. I would say it would work for late second grade and third grade. It’s about 90 pages with pictures sprinkled in. None of the vocabulary stuck out as really difficult. Give this to kids who you know would like Clementine, but can’t handle the reading level yet and to kids who are into sports, particularly soccer.


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