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Lara, who is very overweight, joins Mrs. Smith's fourth-grade English class in the middle of the year, and from the moment she walks in the door, she is bullied and mocked by her fellow students. The story culminates in a powerful scene that takes place at the end of the school play.
Readers will feel the pain, forgiveness, repentance, and consequences that occur throughout the story as students and teachers experience the worst and best in each other. Recommended for ages 8 to 12 years. Hardcover edition.
Number of Pages: 192
Vendor: Tyndale House
Publication Date: 2016
|Dimensions: 8.50 X 5.50 X 1.00 (inches)|
But the story is about ten-year-old Laney Grafton and the new girl in her classLara Phelps, whom everyone bullies from the minute she shows up. Laney is just relieved to have someone else as a target of bullying. But instead of acting the way a bullied kid normally acts, this new girl returns kindness for a meanness that intensifies . . . until nobody remains unchanged, not even the reader.
In a unique and multi-layered story, with equal parts humor and angst, Laney communicates the art of storytelling as it happens, with chapter headings, such as: Character, Setting, Conflict, Rising Action, Climax. And she weaves an unforgettable tale of a new girl who transforms an entire class and, in the process, reveals the best and worst in all of us.
This is a powerful and emotional story, which School Library Journal called Thoroughly enjoyable and unexpectedly wry, . . . as intelligent as it is succinct.
Susan OsbornFullerton, CAAge: Over 65Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Excellent Book on BullyingMarch 10, 2017Susan OsbornFullerton, CAAge: Over 65Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Larger-than-Life Lara is an excellent book for children, preteens, and teens. There is much bulling going on in our society today in the grade schools, junior highs, and high schools. Dandi Mackall deals with this issue in a most unusual way. The new girl, Lara, transforms her entire class and hopefully will also transform the reader as she shows kindness in return for meanness. Hopefully young people will see themselves in this book and learn to deal with their classmates, who seem different, or have disabilities, in a more positive manner.
Just Commonly4 Stars Out Of 5Great to read & raise discussion with kidsJanuary 4, 2017Just CommonlyQuality: 0Value: 0Meets Expectations: 0Larger-than-Life Lara by Dandi Daley Mackall is a book about bullying. Yes. That's it. Of course in every story, there's more to it than a simple word, but in this case, the main objective is that. It's written in the perspective of a 10 year old. Grammar and sentence structure may be questionable, but based on what the author is trying to achieve in authenticity of a 10 year old's narration, it's successful. Larger-Than-Life Lara is a good story. It's good despite all the minor qualms I have with it. It's good simply because it focused on one social issue (bullying) and was able to deliver the impact it has on kids and others. There are other issues from other characters that lurks in the background, but the author doesn't dive into it, but remain focus on Lara and bullying. True, we meet Laney, our narrator and does get to know a little more about her, but even Laney narrates and says this story is about Lara. There are some realistic elements in Larger-Than-Life Lara and definitely a great story to read with kids and discuss the ramifications of the actions in the book. Again, I would not dwell too much on grammar and writing, but focus on the theme at hand. It's profound, simple and worth a read, especially if parents would like a starting point to discuss this social epidemic.
Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the author/publisher. I was not required to write a positive review, and have not been compensated for this. This is my honest opinion.
For my review policy, please see my Disclosure page.
CallieAge: 18-24Gender: female4 Stars Out Of 5Great bookJanuary 4, 2017CallieAge: 18-24Gender: femaleQuality: 0Value: 0Meets Expectations: 05/5 stars (for adults - I really enjoyed this one).
4/5 stars for kids (I think you should know your child before handing them this book, because it wouldn't be a great one for every kid with some of the difficult themes).
Do you ever order a book and then realize later that it is actually a children's book? Don't tell me I'm the only one.
When I ordered Larger-Than-Life Lara by Dandi Daley Mackall, I honestly thought it was a novel for an adult audience, but then I started to suspect that maybe it was more of a middle-grade novel - and it arrived, and indeed it was. The characters in this book are in the fourth grade, so I'm assuming it is meant for that age group, but I have to tell you, I loved this book.
Plot: The book is narrated by a fourth grade girl, Laney, who is trying to write a book about something significant that happened in her class. She jumps into the story telling us about a new girl who arrived, named Lara, who is overweight but incessantly joyful. Even as the other kids bully her, there is something about Lara that can't seem to be beaten down.
All of this is told from Laney's perspective, and she "writes" the book by breaking each chapter down into each story element, like "minor characters", "setting", "climax", etc, which I found really charming. She also keeps insisting that this story is about Lara, not about her, which is cute because as a reader you know it really is about her, and how Lara affects her life.
Content: Laney does not have an easy life though, and there are some elements in this book that might warrant some guidance if a fourth grader were to be the one reading it. Laney's family is poor and her dad does not take good care of them. Laney's dad is an alcoholic, and her three older brothers cuss at her (not spelled out in the book) and call her mean names constantly. There is a reference to magazines that her father does not want her brothers to see. At one point we find out that Laney's dad slapped her on the cheek. This is the extent of physically abusive behavior from her dad that is spelled out in this book, but some more sensitive kids might find this disturbing.
Aside from Laney's troubles at home, most of the story revolves around Lara being bullied at school because of her weight, and it got pretty cringe-worthy. She handles it all with grace and kindness, which is an inspiring aspect to the story.
Spiritual Aspect: Even though this book is published by Tyndale, the Christian message in it isn't spelled out. Parents, you are going to have to do that for your child yourself. Verses like Matthew 7:12, Proverbs 31:26, and Matthew 18:21-22 come to mind. Positive themes that you could expound on would be kindness, forgiveness, and joy.
My Thoughts: The ending of this book was really good and believable. Not everything is resolved at the end of this book - Laney ends with a better relationship with one of her brothers, which means she now has an ally at home, but none of her other home problems are resolved. However, the whole class learns a lesson about bullying, and the example of kindness from Lara in this book would form some great basis for discussion.
As an adult reading this book, I was really invested in the characters and worried about what would happen to them - and the ending left enough strings untied that I still find myself thinking about Laney and worrying about where her life will go. I really kind of wish there would be another book, because I would definitely read it. For kids though...I don't know if I'd let my kids read this before age ten at least. I think it would depend on the kid and how much real-life "hard stuff" they were able to handle at that age. Great book for discussion between parents and kids though - I'd suggest reading this one together.
Note: I received a copy of this book for free in exchange for a review. This is my honest opinion.
Faith WarriorNew HampshireAge: 45-54Gender: Female5 Stars Out Of 5Larger-Than-Life Lara by Dandi Daley MackallDecember 8, 2016Faith WarriorNew HampshireAge: 45-54Gender: FemaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through Tyndale House Publishers book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commissions 16 CFR, Part 255 : Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.
Larger-Than-Life Lara is a juvenile fictional book, suggested for readers 9-12 years of age. Larger-Than-Life Lara brings awareness to bullying and how those who bully can be changed, even without their own knowledge. At the same time, Larger-Than-Life Lara provides the reader with the different parts of a story and the story itself supplies the examples to further demonstrate those parts of a story.
I really liked the idea of each chapter within the story being about a different area which is used to tell and complete a story; the character, the beginning, a frozen moment, the villain, the setting, dialogue between characters, and many other parts of a story. Another thing that touched me was the way, the one who was bullied, reacted to the bullying. The reaction from one person can change the actions of another.
I recommend Larger-Than-Life Lara.
SuzieNashville, TNAge: 35-44Gender: female5 Stars Out Of 5Lara Teaches Life LessonsDecember 4, 2016SuzieNashville, TNAge: 35-44Gender: femaleQuality: 5Value: 5Meets Expectations: 5In Larger-Than-Life Lara, Dandi Daley Mackall approaches a difficult subject, one that is a life lesson every child should be taught at a young age, with grace, care and a pinch of humor. A book that should be required reading in every school class room, Lara handles herself well in every situationwell, almost every one.
Whats even more cool about this book is it not only deals with the topic of bullying but it also teaches readers the different parts of telling a story as each chapter deals with one of these elements (Dialogue, Setting, Rising Action, Details, Cliff-Hangers, and Climax are all addressed).
Ten-year-old Laney Grafton is a tad relieved when the new girl enters her classroom because everyones mean words and teasing shifts away from her and onto Lara Phelps. But heres the thing about Lara: she doesnt react like she should. Nope. Instead, Lara accepts the bullying and returns each action with a kindness. And while the storyteller (Laney) doesnt intervene, she does begin to change. As will every reader of this book.
As a reader, I felt Laneys hardships as well as Laras as I was taken along for the ride through the eyes of a fourth-grade girl shares a story through her eyes. The author portrays this excellently through the writing of the story. I was there in that class room with Laney and as she shares this impactful time in her life all the while commenting on whats shes learned about telling a story. And the results are sometimes humorous, sometimes heart-breaking, but always memorable.
If you have young children who are being bullied or if you know young children you want to encourage to help a friend who is being bullied or if you want to share how one person can make a difference, then Large-Than-Life Lara is a way in which to do it impactfully.
****I receive complimentary books for review from publishers, publicists, and/or authors, including Netgalley. I am not required to write positive reviews. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255.