cover image Lola and the Troll

Lola and the Troll

Connie Schultz, illus. by Sandy Rodriguez. Razorbill, $18.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-593-52763-4

In a chapter book–scale story that’s full of moral conviction, Schultz (The Daughters of Erietown, for adults) writes about a child learning how to stand up to a bully. Each morning, tan-skinned Lola and her classmates hurry past Tom the Troll, who stands costumed in a doorway holding handmade signs that bear pointed personal insults. Accused of having “too big” hair, a loud voice, and more, Lola tries to change, tying her curls in a bun “the size of one of Grandma’s drop biscuits” and speaking in whispering tones. “Is this still... me?” she wonders. When Lola’s favorite bookseller, Ms. Sneesby, sees the change in Lola and names the problem (“What a bully. He must be very afraid of you”), it gives Lola the courage to unmask Tom. With doll-like cuteness, Rodriguez draws Lola; her tiny, often-invisible dog Tank (“small on the outside means mighty on the inside”); and her peers, portrayed with various skin tones, in the end rendering Tom as more hapless than menacing. Though wobbly logic undercuts the telling, this double picture book debut offers up a sparky protagonist and an instructive model of confronting cruelty head-on. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)