Larger-Than-Life Lara

( 6 )

Overview

When Lara Phelps walks into Laney Grafton's fourth-grade class, Laney feels the air change. Lara is fat. Really fat. Finally, there will be someone else for the boys to pick on, Laney thinks. But as the class prepares for the school play, Lara doesn't act the way a fat kid should. She's confident. She's happy. And nothing, it seems, can change her positive attitude. Until one day, when Laney's classmates do the unthinkable.

Bestselling author Dandi Daley Mackall tells this ...

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Overview

When Lara Phelps walks into Laney Grafton's fourth-grade class, Laney feels the air change. Lara is fat. Really fat. Finally, there will be someone else for the boys to pick on, Laney thinks. But as the class prepares for the school play, Lara doesn't act the way a fat kid should. She's confident. She's happy. And nothing, it seems, can change her positive attitude. Until one day, when Laney's classmates do the unthinkable.

Bestselling author Dandi Daley Mackall tells this original and poignant story through the use of sparkling language, a winsome narrator, and a clever structure that illustrates just what makes a story a story.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Melissa J. Rickey
Ten-year-old Laney Grafton recounts recent events surrounding Lara, a new girl in her class, who is morbidly obese. Through her narrative, Laney documents the miserable and numerous offenses that are perpetrated on Lara, and reveals her own experiences as the class scapegoat and outcast. Finally, the students' publicly mortify Lara, with an act so mean-spirited that the adults finally get involved (their absence and lack of leadership and guidance is a huge gap throughout this novel). The outcome is that Lara, rather than the perpetrators, has to leave the school. And, to the students' astonishment, Lara and her parents leave without saying goodbye. Realizing the serious effect their actions have had on Lara, and what it has revealed about their own lack of understanding and empathy, the children line the school driveway, holding signs of apology and well wishes as the car passes. This final scene fails to redeem the students' relentless intolerance of Lara up to that point, however. Readers don't gain new understandings of childhood obesity or the fact that it is a disease deserving compassion, and that it's not indicative of an absence of mental or emotional intelligence.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-6-Ten-year-old Laney Grafton is more than a little relieved when Lara Phelps (immediately dubbed "Larger-Than-Life Lara") joins her class. Enormously fat and relentlessly kind, Lara distracts the local bullies from all the negative attention that Laney has previously received. Unfortunately, Lara's cheerfulness attracts quite a lot of nasty attention from her other classmates as well until something happens that tears down Lara's remarkable spirit entirely. Laney is an engaging narrator. Particularly delightful is the way in which she tells the story. Each chapter has a title that is related to the narrative, such as "Rising Action," "Suspense," "Dialogue," etc. Laney then explains why she chose to include or hold back pertinent information in accordance with her teacher's storytelling rules. Her explanation of how to write a book is just as interesting as the events that she's describing. Best of all, none of this detracts from the novel's emotional core. Thoroughly enjoyable and unexpectedly wry, this book is as intelligent as it is succinct. A good companion piece to Tony Abbott's Firegirl (Little, Brown, 2006).-Elizabeth Bird, New York Public Library Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A likable fourth-grader writes a book (this one) about a cryptic and crucified fellow classmate. Narrator Laney has a painful home life, with mean brothers and a father who drinks and hits. Her book "isn't about me," she insists, but Mackall delicately includes Laney's own aches and triumphs. The ostensible protagonist is Lara, a fat girl. The class harasses Lara mercilessly-even Laney uses words like "waddled," though just in her writing, which is less hateful to Lara but still damaging to readers. Lara's smile never wavers. A class play exhilarates Laney, who's cast in it; Lara, relegated to stage crew despite the undisputed best audition, cheerfully works on the crew. A final cruel trick on Lara forces her out of the school forever. As she leaves, the class holds up handwritten posters of apology. Lara's final sacrifice, unwavering friendliness and unexplained knowledge of peers' secrets make her a saint figure. Laney's portrayal is nicely subtle, but Lara's unflinching martyrdom is awkward for realism (and is another harmful example of fat character as victim). (Fiction. 9-11)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780525477266
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 8/17/2006
  • Pages: 160
  • Sales rank: 590,808
  • Age range: 10 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 830L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.78 (w) x 8.52 (h) x 0.69 (d)

Meet the Author

Dandi Daley Mackall is the author of numerous books for children, including Larger-Than-Life Lara. She lives in West Salem, Ohio, with her husband and their three children.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 6 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 6 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 23, 2006

    WOW! A Book for every kid who ever thought of being a bully!

    This is a book I wish every kid would read---every bully, every person ever bullied in school, and all the kids who watch bullying , but don't step in. I laughed out loud at the Narrator's matter -of-fact storytelling. And then on the next page, I round myself crying and wishing I could be half the person Lara is. I'm giving this book to all of my children's teachers. It should be required reading!

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 20, 2007

    'Lara Phelps is the kind of person you never forget.'

    Laney Grafton, a nearly 10-year-old 4th grader at an elementary school in Paris, Missouri is writing a story, that's not about her life, so she claims, but about 'Larger-than-Life-Lara'. Lara Phelps is a new kid in the fourth grade and she quickly becomes the target for some mean jokes due to her being at least 300 pounds, hence the name, ¿Larger-Than-Life¿. Laney used to be teased, but now that Lara's here, she's been forgotten. While Laney feels bad for Lara, she¿s glad she¿s no longer picked on because her life at home is difficult enough and though the story is ¿not about Laney,¿ we find out a great deal about her life, too. There are incidences of a drunk and abusive father, a memory of a mother who ran away, and then there¿s Laney having to do the work around the house and keep her brothers from killing each other. As the story unfolds, we find that Lara is very intuitive, genuinely happy, and most of all, very forgiving. She retaliates against the bullying, not with meanness, but with simple and sweet poetry. She never stops smiling. 'She's the kind of person you never forget'. The book is written from Laney Grafton¿s point of view and is supposed to seem to be written by Laney herself. Some of the titles of the chapters include Character, Conflict, Rising Action, and Climax. Laney is describing how to write a story while doing just that. I loved reading the book, and actually did so in just a couple of hours. I found that I was trying to put myself in the situations and I realized that the issues in this book are definitely issues of which kids of this age can relate. These issues include poverty, neglect, and bullying, along with others. There were times that I thought there might be a little too much going on in the book, with Lara¿s story, Laney¿s story, and the explanation of how to write a story all intertwining. Overall, I do recommend this book to children of this age and it could also be of great use in a writing classroom.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2006

    So Great I Want to Read it Again!

    Kids and teachers alike will love this book!Larger-Than-Life Lara grabbed me on the first page and I couldn't put it down until the last page. I feel like I've know every one of these characters. Author, Dandi Mackall, has woven a story with a strong voice, engaging characters, and a larger- than-life heroin who rises above the cruelty of bullies. By the end of the book the reader not only walks away with a wider view of life, but also will have learned all the parts of a well writen story. This is a must read! If kid's books could be on Oprah, this would be on the top of her book club list.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2006

    INSIGHTFUL & Amazing

    This is a sensitive, insightful novel that makes readers evaluate their own actions. The narrator reminds me of of Scout in To Kill a Mockingbird. I LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this book!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 17, 2009

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 10, 2014

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