Friday, May 31, 2013

Lotus Lane: Kiki, my stylish life by Kyla May

This is another in the Branches series (yes, I'm going through the whole stack) and I have to say this is probably the one I like the least. Prepare for totally biased reviewing.

Kiki is at first delighted when a new girl moves in next door, but after they get off on the wrong foot it seems like nothing can go right for her, even with her bffs Coco and Lulu by her side. It takes a little compromise from everyone for the misunderstandings to be cleared up, and there might even be a new member of the Lotus Lane Girls Club in the future.

While there is an obligatory reference to the "mean girl" in school, if you look at the story...Kiki is the mean girl herself. While she does initially apologize to Mika, the new girl, when Mika doesn't immediately fall in with Kiki's clique, Kiki gossips about her, blocks her out of her clique, tries to get her in trouble at school, and generally makes it clear that she feels her position as queen fashion bee is threatened. Even at the end when she makes up with Mika, she doesn't give any indication that she's really thought about her actions and would behave differently in the future. Basically, she's a snotty little brat who doesn't understand any perspective outside of her own. The nods to other cultures appear to just be there as window dressing for the story, much in the manner of different costumes the girls wear. Kiki's vintage fashion doesn't disguise the fact that she and her friends pretty much get whatever they want in the way of consumer goods as well.

Um, no I did not like Kiki. While her behavior is pretty typical for lots of 7-8 year old girls, it's not something I'd feel comfortable recommending. Readers will be too young to really think about the story, and as it's in diary format and all from Kiki's perspective, it doesn't do a good job of making the reader think about Mika's persective, or the other kids in class who are always secondary to Kiki's drama. The book is designed in diary format, like a notebook, with lots of small drawings and illustrations. Kiki is very fond of catch phrases and exclamations, which annoyed me, although some of that is a personal thing. I also have to say that I find the smiley face characters rather creepy.

Verdict: If you have incipient Clique or Gossip Girl readers, they will probably love this series, especially if you live in an area where you have lots of upper middle class mini fashionistas. On the other hand, I can see some parents objecting to this series and it's not unique or interesting enough that I feel it's a necessary addition to the library, so I feel ok in not purchasing it just because I don't like it.

ISBN: 9780545445122; Published May 2013 by Scholastic; ARC provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter 2013


Ms. Yingling said...

With you on this one. What 7 year old cares about clothes? I'm sure there are a few, but they are probably not reading many books.... I'm not a big fan of mean characters for little girls!

Jennifer said...

I have lots of 7 year olds who like to dress up - but they are not into "fashion" they just like pretty things (on top of other pretty things, next to more pretty things...) I don't necessarily want to only offer books that teach girls to be "nice" and I'm equally not a fan of didactic books but this is too much like Bratz or some Clique-ish/Gossip Girls thing marketing to younger girls.