Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Lola Levine and the Halloween Scream by Monica Brown, illustrated by Angela Dominguez

This is the 6th Lola Levine book (and my first), so fans already know all about her, but others new to the series may not. Indulge me while I introduce Lola. Lola is multiracial - her father is Jewish and her mother is a Peruvian Catholic. She has a younger brother named Ben, and her best friend is Josh Blot, the principal’s son. Lola and Josh are in second grade, and their teacher is named Ms. Garcia. Lola also keeps a diary - Dear Diario - with entries scattered throughout her stories.

In this book, it’s Halloween week and Lola couldn’t be more excited. She loves being scared and scaring other kids, especially her brother Ben. In school it’s a week of autumn fun. First, Ms. Garcia introduces the ways different cultures around the world celebrate autumn. Then, Lola’s class goes on a leaf gathering trip and everyone makes a leaf book with their findings. 

In the middle of the week, there is a trip to an apple orchard where kids get to pick their own apples. While there, the class learns about scarecrows, and Lola thinks maybe that is what she will be for Halloween. After all, she has been really wanting to wear a scary costume, but then, to Lola’s amazement, her friend Bella tells her she doesn’t like being scared by anything.  

Lola really doesn’t understand Bella’s feelings, but she is getting more and more excited about the costume parade on Friday now that she knows what she wants to be. It’s a great parade, especially since leashed pets can be part of it.  Afterwards, on Friday afternoon, sad that Halloweek is over in school, but looking forward to trick-or-treating on Sunday with Josh and Bella, Lola decides to surprise them with a scary joke as they leave school. But when the joke backfires, Lola learns an important lesson about listening to and respecting what her friend told her about not liking to be scared. Now, can Lola fix her mistake in time to still go trick-or-treating with Josh and Bella? Or will they still be mad at her? Can Lola come up with a way to tell them she's sorry?

This is a nice chapter book and a great addition for fans of series books like Ivy and Bean or Junie B. Jones. Lola is a well-meaning 7 year old, but still has a few things to learn (as do all these young protagonists). The problems they have or the situations they find themselves in, like learning to respect the feelings of other kids, are so relatable to that age group when excitement and enthusiasm can lead to some pretty keyed-up behavior and a few mistakes. 

Maybe this is a spoiler:
Lola’s parents are great - they’re understand and really there for Lola and Ben, involved in their children’s lives at home and at school. But when they take most of Lola and Ben’s Halloween candy, then hide it and sneak eat it - that just wasn’t right. When they caught, the candy was all thrown away. Why couldn’t they put it away, and take some out on special occasions to enjoy as a family? 

If you want to learn more about Lola and her friends and family, an Educator’s Guide chock full of learning activities is available from the publisher, Little, Brown. It only covers the first two Lola Levine books, but can easily be tweaked for any book in the series.

This book is recommended for readers age 6+
This book was borrowed from the NYPL

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