The Taming of Lola: A Shrew Story by Ellen Weiss

51486106Lynn: Be honest – there is something flat out satisfying about having a temper tantrum. Most of us learn very early that it doesn’t pay but most of us never lose our fascination with watching someone else or someone else’s child have a foot-stomping screaming fit either. In the animal world, the champion of the temper tantrum is the shrew. This minute creature, renown for its bad temper and fury-fueled fits, has found its way into language and literature including most famously Shakespeare’s The Taming of the Shrew. The Taming of Lola (Abrams 2010), a picture book in five acts, is a hilarious entry into the shrewish canon.

Tiny Lola is SO bad-tempered that her family has given up and just let her have her way. Then Cousin Lester comes to visit and it is quickly clear that Lola has met her match. As the grandmother shrew narrator tells the little shrew, “When they tell you you’re going to have a wonderful time with somebody, WATCH OUT!” Super contrarians Lester and Lola go head to head, shrieking, screaming, stamping till they are exhausted and all asleep on the floor. Neither furious shrew child will give in and it looks like a loooong visit until Lola finally realizes that even the most shrewish may have to work something out.

Jerry Smath’s impish water color illustrations add to the fun providing lots of clever details to increase the giggles. The text has a wonderful cadence that makes this funny book a great read aloud. The young shrews fling insults at each other and one of those, “you are a great big foo-face,” has become the new favorite of the focus group. They don’t get the Shakespeare references but that hasn’t spoiled their enjoyment of the story. I love the fact that the only temper tantrums I’m dealing with are in print!



About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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