Second-grader Lola Zuckerman suffers from the indignity of having a last name at the end of the alphabet.
Lola is always called last as her teacher, Mrs. D., always uses the alphabet as her guide, which leaves Lola scrambling as all the good ideas are taken by the time she gets to speak. Mrs. D.’s class is Going Green. They vote on a project to try together—Lola’s worm-composting idea or her former best friend’s proposal of a trash-free lunch. Eventually, the girls make amends, and the class changes its wasteful ways. Unbelievable plotlines undermine this slight, realistic school story: The teacher always calls on her students in alphabetical order? She refers to her class as jelly beans, lollipops and butterscotch babies? Second graders incite a food fight that adults are unable to stop? The first-person narration gives readers an intimate view of Lola’s fiery resentment of her older brother and the children in her class. Most readers will tire of the malapropisms Lola repeatedly commits, including ball-face lie for bald-face lie, fishsticks for fiddlesticks, won on won for one on one and Mick Mansion for McMansion (these last two homophonic examples feel especially contrived). Hoppe’s pen-and-ink drawings (most unseen) add needed life to the story, showing Lola in constant motion.
Alas, Lola feels more like a Clementine or Ramona wannabe than a real original. (Fiction. 7-10)