Lola Zola and the Lemonade Crush is a novel by Marcy Winograd and Jackie Hirtz aimed at middle grade students. My tween very much enjoyed the novel that features sixth grade heroine Lola Zola who sets up a lemonade stand to make money when both her parents are laid off from their jobs. Although the subject matter is serious and true life, the book is not heavy or sad. The novel is very funny, and my tween and I both recommend it. It would make a great gift, especially when paired with suggestions below.
You can buy Lola Zola and the Lemonade Crush on Amazon here.
UPDATE: You can get it FREE for Kindle on March 25, 2013, and for the next few days. (I was not given a specific end date, so get it now while it's still free!)
Lola relies on some pretty fantastical claims to sell her lemonade. Charles Wembly III (a.k.a. Buck or Slime Bucket), Lola's rival for class president, opens a competing “limo stand” out of the back of his father's Cadillac. He challenges Lola and her friend Melanie on their claims about the power of their lemonade. Eventually, many thirsty people flock to the kids' desert town of Mirage.
The book addresses circumstances of a tough economy but with pluck and humor that keep it fun, and flat out funny. I admit to worrying that my daughter would find it sad, or get worried about our employment situation. Apparently I forgot that she's a tween. She was fine with it and said, "It's part of the story, Mom. You deal. It happens." And while that isn't the sole message of the book, it is a very valuable one. My daughter mentioned that the last book she read that featured a parent losing a job was Ramona Quimby in Ramona and her Father, and that although Lola is older and more sophisticated than Ramona, both girls were scared but found a way to help the family. I agree that, like the Ramona books, Lola Zola has a neat combination of addressing current themes with a timeless approach that will not be dated. Lola is a character that certainly stands on her own, with pluck and humor, and will do so for years to come.
My tween was a big fan of the dialogue in the book, something she's never singled out as a highlight in other books she has read. She told me, "The characters all talk like kids really, actually talk. It seemed like the characters were more real than in other books because they say things that my friends say." She also liked the symbolic communication system that Lola developed with her best friends, Melanie, and said that it was something she'd want to do with her best friend. My tween and I both agree that the book would be good for either boys or girls.
Gifting - Holidays, Easter, Birthday, Spring Break Pick Me Up
The book would make a great holiday gift. While it alone is fun, tweens are always happy to get receive a gift that goes with the book, and this book presents a lot of matching gift options. My tween recommended a parrot phone or a hamster, which are important to the plot, but she also approved of easier to find options.
Those options include the literal approach and giving a variety of lemonade-themed accompaniments, arming the tween recipient with the items necessary for an actual lemonade, like a plastic pitcher or juicer. You could also assemble a reading care package that includes some sparkling lemonade, lemon cookies and a sunny fleece blanket. Alternatively, some fun yellow accessories would go nicely. For girls, this fun beret for $12.50 at Claire's, or this ruffle shirt from Lands End would be great. Boys might like a long sleeve v-neck from Gap Kids.
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