Illustrated diary entries detail Lotta’s comical quest for the perfect pet in this translation of a German bestseller.
Lotta’s first year as a fifth grader at Wilt Whatman Middle School gets off to a rocky start thanks to her aptly named teacher, Mrs. Crabbert, and her continuing petless state. Whether they’re selling a box of bunnies on the curb, making funny animal videos, or trying in vain to get rid of Lotta’s malicious, magical recorder, Lotta and her best friend, Cheyenne, are experts at turning even the most innocuous situations into full-blown fiascos. Written in dated diary entries, Lotta’s first-person narrative relies heavily on humor, often gross and usually at the expense of others. The cartoonishly exaggerated interstitial illustrations depict a cast that’s all white as paper. Speech bubbles, sequential panels, and labeled illustrations are attractive. Unfortunately, the layout combined with the liberal use of display type and a convoluted plot make for a book that’s difficult to follow. There are also a few concerning moments, one an illustration depicting “Indian” chickpeas wearing turbans and another discussing a man in patched-up clothes who rants at the kids before abruptly leaving. Both point to a lack of empathy for different people and cultures.
The illustrated-diary shelves are full; fans should look on them for an alternative to this one. (Fiction. 8-12)