A young girl confronts her fear of sleeping over at a friend’s house in this second book in a series for early readers.
Roman (Oh Susannah: It’s in the Bag, 2017, etc.) returns to the story of nearly 8-year-old Susannah Maya Logan, who faces a new problem: her friend Lola has invited her for a sleepover, but Lola’s brother, Kai, claims that the house is haunted, and Susannah is scared. She’s also reluctant to explain this (“She was a big girl now. How could she tell her mother she was afraid to stay at Lola’s house?”), setting the stage for misunderstanding and conflict. She soon learns about other children’s fears—and about adults’ tendency to use “I’m afraid” in a figurative, rather than literal, sense—and she decides to go to Lola’s house after all: “She had to do this. She had to go in there for Lola.” However, her fears endure as Kai teases her about ghosts and pulls pranks. The girls finally confront Kai with a prank of their own, and Susannah learns that the spooky noises in the house are part of a surprise that her parents and Lola have been planning. The book’s nearly 50-page length and vocabulary make it appropriate for readers near Susannah’s age, and although the fears that the characters confront—clowns, unicorns, being replaced as a best friend—may not impress adult readers, they’re given the right weight for a young audience. The book deals obliquely with issues of diversity; there’s no mention of race in the text, but the illustrations depict Lola as dark-skinned, and at another point, Susannah explains the color green to a blind friend (“When you go really fast, that’s green”). Roman ties up most of the plot threads neatly but also leaves a clear starting point for the next installment in the series. Overall, it’s a solid story with clear appeal for its intended readership.
A short but well-developed tale about facing anxiety and making friends.