Larger-than-Lara is a quick read, but not a simple story or quickly forgotten. The story is told from Laney Grafton’s point of view, a fourth grader who demurely accepts her impoverished life with a dad who drinks too much, three older brothers who have no respect for her and a mother who left the family and who Laney doesn’t remember.
Laney’s classroom enters major upheaval when a new student, Lara, joins the class. Lara is hugely overweight; she needs her own adult chair and desk, and her skin flaps when she walks.
Lara invites meanness and ridicule just by her looks. But how she responds to the hurtful comments and unkindness shows a character that never gets angry and is incredibly positive. She responds with amazing kindness and often speaks back in poetic sentences.
Bullying escalates into disaster for Lara. How the class is transformed by what happens next is touching and persuasive.
The author, Dandi Mackall does a brilliant job of portraying fourth grader’s actions and thinking. At the same time, she tackles the subject of bullying, gives the reader some basic lessons on writing techniques and made an elementary reading level story hold my interest through every paragraph..
The book chapter titles disclose the writing techniques woven into Laney’s telling, as she tries to incorporate what she is learning about crafting a story; Character, Setting, Climax, Cliff-Hanger, etc. Very clever and informative.
I found Laney believable and likeable. Navigating her difficult family dynamics has made her sensible and more mature than many of her classmates. We see wisdom in her assessment of events and people. May those of us who have opportunity to work with youth take to heart the lessons and insights into this age group that Dandi Mackall has given us in this fascinating book.
Most Tyndale books have a Christian theme or perspective. While this book upholds some Christian values, there is no reference to anything spiritual or religious
I received this book from Tyndale Publishers in exchange for my honest review.