Larger-Than-Life Lara

larger-than-life-lara.jpgWhat’s on my nightstand? Larger-Than-Life Lara, by Dandi Daley Mackall.

I read a YA novel earlier this week, but I’m not going to mention it because I didn’t especially like it. Actually, I’m still not sure what I think of it. It was weird.

Larger-Than-Life Lara, however, is proving a fun read. When Lara Phelps enters Laney’s fourth grade classroom, Laney’s life changes. The teasing that was once directed at her is now focused on Lara because Lara is fat. Really fat.

So far, what I’m liking about the story is that Lara is not your stereotypical downtrodden social outcast. On the contrary, she appears happy, strong, and well-adjusted. Of course, I’m in the middle of the story right now; she could blow her top and reveal deep dysfunction and snakes-for-hair in the remaining pages. What do I know?

But I doubt it. Gosh, I hope not.

Something else I especially like is the way Laney tells the story. She’s writing it for her teacher, Mrs. Smith, using all the techniques of storytelling Mrs. Smith has taught. That’s a nice angle, and Laney’s voice is authentic. I’m completely engaged.

Dandi Daley Mackall is nothing short of amazing. You know how yesterday I said Jen Robinson was prolific? Well, Dandi is like four Jen Robinsons. You think I’m kidding, that I’m being hyperbolic. Well, I’m not, and here’s the proof: Dandi has published over 400 books in twenty years or so. Now tell me she’s not like four Jen Robinsons. See? SEE?

Dandi is a self-described workaholic, but she’s something else, too: really nice and way-yonder cool! I met her more than ten years ago at the Highlights Foundation Writers Workshop at Chautauqua, where she was a presenter and I was a raw writing newbie, and she was simply my favorite person there. She made me feel completely at home, and she was a tremendous inspiration.

Check out the first paragraph of her bio. It’s such a great story! So great, in fact, that it’s now a picture book story. I need to own that book.

Categories: Reading