Reviews for Lula Bell on Geekdom, Freakdom, & the Challenges of Bad Hair

Booklist Reviews 2012 November #2
For fifth-grader Lula Bell Bonner, being the school freak in her Tennessee town wouldn't be so bad if bully (and former BFF) Kali wasn't constantly reminding her of it. At least she has kindhearted Grandma Bernice and her words of wisdom, as well as preparing for the school talent show, in which to take comfort. But when her grandmother dies unexpectedly, Lula's grief drives out all desire to perform. Drawing upon inspiration from her musician father, a practical approach to life (and bullies) from estranged classmate Alan, and the spirit of Grandma Bernice, Lula not only finds the courage to sing at the talent show but to confront Kali and renew her friendship with Alan. In a first-person narration with a southern flair, Lula intermittently offers her own advice to readers: "Here's a little tip for you: nobody wants any kind of vegetable casserole when someone has died--or ever, if you ask me." While trying to fit in, Lula learns how to stand out in this heartwarming tale. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2013 Spring
Fifth-grader Lula Bell wants desperately to fit in, but her best friend has become a bully intent on exposing Lula's freakdom. When her grandmother dies unexpectedly, Lula tries to take her advice to ignore mean girls and simply "let her light shine." Lula's troubles are resolved too tidily, but her longing for acceptance and the book's lighthearted humor may win over younger readers.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 September #2
Fifth-grader Lula Bell longs to escape the attention of strident bully—and former BFF—Kali. In her endeavor to blend in, Lula Bell forgoes her favorite lunches, spurns Alan, her staunchest ally, and dismisses her talents. However, her vivacious Grandma Bernice has different ideas, encouraging Lula Bell to "let [her] light shine no matter who's watchin' " and be true to herself. Lula Bell's desire to embrace anonymity is at odds with her mother and Grandma Bernice's wishes for her to participate in the school's talent show. Grandma Bernice's unexpected death provides the impetus for Lula Bell to reconsider the status quo, leading her to take decisive action and bravely confront her anxieties. A surprising plot development finds Lula Bell demonstrating extraordinary generosity in the true spirit of her beloved grandmother. Ultimately, she realizes that in her quest to be accepted, she has overlooked a true and steadfast friend. Payne thoughtfully examines the grieving process as Lula Bell struggles to accept and adjust to her loss. With an authentic voice, the wryly humorous Lula Bell contemplates life and the nature of true friendship with distinctive candor. Payne's hopeful tale encourages readers to rejoice in what makes them unique. (Fiction. 9-12) Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Reviews 2012 December

Gr 4-6--Fifth-grader Lula Bell is having a rough year. Her former best friend has made her the target of her bullying, and she ignores her true friend, Alan, because the popular kids think that he is a geek. She has one person whom she can count on to understand how she feels, her grandmother. Grandma Bernice encourages Lula Bell to be herself and to "let her light shine." She also convinces Lula Bell to enter the school's talent show even though she is terrified to do so. The child's world changes forever when her beloved relative unexpectedly passes away. The book gives readers a sense of what Lula Bell feels; she could be any child who is being bullied and wants to become invisible. In the end, she learns some important lessons about real friends, life and death, and about herself.--Tammy Di Bartolo, Rapides Parish Library, Alexandria, LA

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