Last-But-Not-Least Lola and the Cupcake Queens
Author: Christine Pakkala
Illustrator: Paul Hoppe
Published October 6th, 2015 by Boyds Mills Press
Goodreads Summary: Lola’s mom is home but not home, because she’s frantically working all the time. Lola’s friends are here but not here as allegiances among the foursome change faster than you can forget your lines for a school play. Lola means well but can’t help acting on her emotions and getting into trouble. She’ll need to dig for bravery as she deals with a possible ghost next door, stage fright, and, hardest of all, making amends with her friends. Lola is braver than she thinks and her friendships are stronger than she realizes in this funny, heartwarming tale.
Kellee’s Review: I love that we are finding more and more girls like Lola in books. Lola is unique and smart and creative and not perfect yet also so very normal. She can be both a really good friend yet also a girl who makes mistakes. Lola is such a great role model for readers because she is all of these things, both good and bad. Readers will see themselves in her because she is very human.
In Lola and the Cupcake Queens, we get to know Lola even better. We learn that she has insecurities, that she loves her friends but doesn’t always know how to act, and that she underestimates herself. Each story about Lola’s puts her in more and more situations that readers will be able to connect with.
Ricki’s Review: I adored this charming series and immediately contacted a few friends who have young daughters who I know will fall in love with these books. Lola is a feisty redhead who seems to get herself into quite a bit of trouble. My favorite scene in the book is when Lola finds herself (yet again) in the principal’s office. She and the principal are great friends, and she casually struts into the office and is a bit taken aback when her friend is nervous. Her confidence and feistiness made me want to meet her! As she talks to the principal, she stops halfway through her sentence to lower her voice because yelling is not allowed. She knows the rules but seems to have a bit of difficulty following them—despite how hard she tries.
Lola reminds me of so many kids that I taught. She wants to do well, so she strives to be a good person. Even though she gets into a lot of trouble, it isn’t malicious. She just makes a lot of mistakes. These kinds of characters are fantastic for young readers because, like Kellee said, they allow children to see that they can learn from their mistakes. This series is a must for classrooms—it is the kind of series that turn kids into avid readers.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Lola is going to be a favorite character of so many readers. She belongs in classroom and school libraries so readers can fall in love with her in the ways that we did. In the book, Lola’s teacher did an activity that would also be great in the classroom. As the students were planning their Halloween costumes, she asked each child describe his/her costume without saying what it was. This activity would be a great way to help students build their imagery and descriptive language skills within creative writing.
As another idea, teachers might ask students to consider what it means to be a good friend. They could trace Lola’s actions to determine how she evolves as a friend in the series and then apply her actions to their own lives. This will help them think about friendship critically and relate it back to their own lives.
Discussion Questions: Do you think Lola intentionally gets into trouble? Why or why not?; What qualities would you use to describe Lola? Which of her actions reflect these qualities?; Is Lola a good friend? Why or why not?
We Flagged: “N-n-n-no,” she cries. “I’ve just never ever gotten in trouble and gone to the principal’s office. I’m not bad like you.”
“I’m not bad!” I yell, but part-way through I turn the volume down because yelling is bad. Especially right in front of the principal” (p. 65).
Read This If You Loved: Franklin School Friends series by Claudia Mills, Marty McGuire series by Kate Messner, Bink and Gollie series by Kate DiCamillo, Cody and the Fountain of Happiness by Tricia Springstubb, Eleanor books by Julie Sternberg, Babymouse series by Jennifer L. Holm, Bramble and Maggie series by Jessie Haas, The Trouble with Ants by Claudia Mills
**Thank you to Kayleigh at Boyds Mills Press for providing copies for review!**