Second-grader Lexi is not a fan of “hoopla”: “It’s loud like an explosion. Also, it’s full of surprises. I have a phobia of those things.” So when she finds out that there will be a class Christmas party, complete with a mystery-present exchange, she begins plotting ways to get out of it. Lexi has an unnamed social disorder that makes her react differently to things, such as parties, that the rest of her peers enjoy. She gets very uncomfortable, for example, if she breaks rules or lies, so she studiously avoids those behaviors, and she sometimes has trouble finding the right words. She becomes convinced that, in order to avoid the party, she’ll have to get on Santa’s naughty list. She’s even willing to risk the “feeling of barf” she gets by being naughty if it gets her out of “hoopla.” In this second series installment, Lexi has a best friend, Kaylee, who helps her think about how her words and actions affect other people; for example, when her humbug attitude destroys Kaylee’s feeling of Christmas magic, Lexi immediately reins in her behavior to keep her friend happy. In return, Kaylee offers Lexi understanding, accepting her quirks without comment: “I am a fan of the way Kaylee always says ‘OK,’ ” Lexi says. “She doesn’t say stuff like ‘Everybody likes Christmas hoopla, Lexi!’ like other people.” When Lexi realizes that her naughty-list plan might ruin her friend’s holiday, she must come to terms with how her behavior affects not only herself, but her whole class. Lexi is just as delightful a narrator in this sequel as she was in the first book, and her new friendship with Kaylee is well-developed. Lexi’s parents’ understanding of her needs has also grown since the first volume, and the book exhibits their beautifully positive parent-child relationship. Although Lexi eventually finds something to like about Christmas, Lesko never undermines her struggles by offering an easy fix. Middle-grade readers, whether or not they have neurodevelopmental disorders, will root for Lexi and look forward to future adventures.
Hurrah (but no “hoopla”) for the return of Super Lexi!