Lola is back in another tale of school and rocky friendship (Last-But-Not-Least Lola Going Green, 2013).
Lola Zuckerman is still in the second grade with Mrs. D., the teacher who refers to her students as brands of candy (“she luh-huvs candy”) and insists (for reasons unexplained to readers) on calling her class in alphabetical order. Amanda Anderson is always first, and Lola is always last. This drives Lola mad, especially since Amanda is her (sometimes) best friend, and Lola would like her all to herself. Lola’s parents are out of town, and her grandmother is taking care of her and her brother Jack. Grandma loves her “bubelahs,” but she’s not much of a cook, which adds to Lola’s general misery. When new kid Savannah also befriends Amanda, Lola reaches her boiling point. Jealousy is a standard theme for school stories, but Lola’s never-ending episodes become tiresome. She makes herself so unlikable that the inevitable happy ending is hard to believe. From Lola to the teacher to the visiting grandmother, each character is more caricature than real person. Hoppe’s emotionally honest, frequent black-and-white drawings hold the narrative together well, adding interest when the plot falls.
While it’s nice to have a Jewish chapter-book protagonist, so far Lola is mostly Clementine-lite. (Fiction. 7-11)