Some Pigtails

Albert Whitman. (A Lola Jones Book). Oct. 2020. 96p. Tr $12.99. ISBN 9780807565643.
Gr 2-4–When Lola enlists her artist grandfather to braid her pigtails, his unique approach enchants her classmates, encouraging them to be just as creative with their hair styles. The school principal claims that students are violating the school’s dress code and Lola, inspired by E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, decides to use her words and take action. Lola is friendly and resourceful, but doesn’t have the personality to carry a chapter book series. The Charlotte’s Web references become heavy handed, and the dialogue can be didactic and stilted. The cartoon style black-and-white illustrations have clean lines that should appeal to Disney fans. The full-color cover illustration depicts Lola with brown skin but doesn’t mention Lola and her family’s racial or ethnic background. Lola’s friend Fayth is drawn with darker skin; every other character is white. Readers are told that Lola’s mother is starting a new role as a supervisor for the local police department; this is presented as nothing more than an exciting new job. This easy acceptance stands out in a story about activism spotlighting a character of color. Readers should pass in favor of more nuanced chapter books such as Saadia Faruqi’s “Yasmin” series, and Juana Medina’s “Juana and Lucas” books.
VERDICT Hampered by bland characters and a missed opportunity to incorporate contemporary topics more deeply into its activist motif, this is not recommended for purchase.

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