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Fourth-grader Laney Grafton doesn’t quite fit in at her school. Her home life isn’t like everyone else’s, so she stays quiet and keeps to herself. But that doesn’t mean the other kids leave her alone. So when a new, obese girl named Lara shows up at school, it’s an uncomfortable relief that someone else is the target of their taunting.

Lara seems like an easy target. However, no matter what insults they throw her way, she keeps a smile on her face and returns it all with kindness. And she seems to understand her classmates better than they understand themselves. Laney doesn’t know what to think of it, but she is intrigued.

Larger-Than-Life Lara tackles the problem of bullying with interesting characters and compassionate prose. At the same time, it teaches young readers the elements of fiction-writing, as Laney narrates the story according to what her own teacher has taught her.

While it deals with weighty issues, this juvenile novel keeps a light, age-appropriate voice that will keep younger readers engaged. Ages 10 and up. (Tyndale)

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