Lola Levine Meets Jelly and Bean by Monica Brown, illustrated by Angela Dominguez, 112 pp, RL 2
Lola Levine Meets Jelly and Bean
Library Bound Edition purchased with District Funding
Story: Second grader Lola and her family are getting ready to adopt a shelter cat, starting (YAY!) at the library. A diario entry kicks of the book (Lola always signs off, "Shalom"), and we get a great sense of Lola's voice and who she is and what matters to her. She loves the library, but not the librarians who tell her to be quiet while she is talking to the characters in the books she is reading. Happily, the librarian Lola calls Ms. Red, because of her hair, is on the job and she doesn't mind when Lola gets loud. Lola and her little brother Ben do research, make plans for a cat condo and other things their new pet will need. Lola and Ben agree to name the cat Jelly Levine when she licks the jelly off the plate of heart-shaped PB&J sandwiches their dad has made them. When Ben starts sneezing, Lola convinces him he just has a cold, but when he breaks out in red spots she confesses to her parents and they quickly realize he is allergic to cats and begin looking for a new home for Jelly Levine. The story ends with two wonderful surprises for Lola. Jelly Levine finds a home nearby where she can visit, and Lola's parents adopt a puppy that Ben names Bean Levine, in honor of Jelly.
Pictures: Dominguez's black and white illustrations, full page and half, are filled with humor and detail - especially when it comes to Lola's Peruvian heritage. Characters are simply drawn, but clearly diverse and different from each other.
Why Read? Why Buy?: Lola is such an irresistibly creative character bursting with genuine enthusiasm and emotions, she practically leaps off the page. Half-Peruvian, half-Jewish, she brings much needed diversity to the page, especially in the world of chapter books. She just might be the Latinx Junie B. Jones (but better) I've saying the world of kid's books needs to anyone who will listen for years now. When I say better than Junie, it's because the character speaks properly and isn't sassy. Yes, Lola admits that she gets grumpy, but she also finds ways to cope with her emotions and keep them from spilling over onto others when she can. Even better, Lola's mother is an investigative journalist and her father is an artist, adding an extra layer of interest to the stories. Lola's final diario entry sums up the story and acknowledges important things learned, which I especially love. Brown proves a talented writer of fiction and non-fiction for kids.
More books in this magnificent series!
Illustrations from the series by Angela Dominguez: