cover image Louder, Lili

Louder, Lili

Gennifer Choldenko, , illus. by S.D. Schindler. . Putnam, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-399-24252-6

Lili, the heroine of this perceptive classroom drama, is so reticent that her teacher marks her absent even when she's there. When it's time to buddy up, “Lili's stomach twisted and her mouth froze closed,” and Lili goes partnerless. Lili seems willing to accept the consequences—there's a scene of her contentedly reading alone in the classroom during recess—until a bossy girl named Cassidy gloms onto her and takes advantage of her shyness. But when Cassidy tries to mistreat the class guinea pig, Lili finds both her voice and a true best friend. Schindler (The Snow Globe Family ) is a good match for Choldenko's (How to Make Friends with a Giant ) restrained but deeply empathetic writing; his cartooned characters and soft, penciled textures convey all the real-life angst of school without feeling maudlin or overwhelming. Readers will identify with Lili's authentic triumphs as she vanquishes not only the bully, but her own anxieties as well. Ages 4-up. (Sept.)