Lola Levine loves soccer, as does her younger brother. She loves writing - in her diario, notes to her parents, and letters. She also loves animals and she has a "strong personality. She worries sometimes when the other girls tease her for having a boy for a friend and being "weird" but mostly she's happy with herself and her life.
Then, while playing soccer at recess, she accidentally hurts Juan, another player. The principal says she is too competitive and can't play sports until she has "learned her lesson" and only her friend Josh will talk to her. The mean girls have gotten everyone to call her Mean Lola Levine and she's miserable. But after some time spent helping her little brother with a girl he likes, saving his class pet, and talking to her parents, she decides to handle her problems herself. She writes a letter both promising to be more careful and reminding her principal that accidents happen; Juan forgives her and Josh stands up for her to the mean girls, and her parents decide she has shown enough responsibility to finally have a pet!
Lola has a "strong personality" and is enthusiastic and competitive, but she's not obnoxious and is willing to learn and think things through. She's a great role model for girls who love sports and want to speak up for themselves at home and at school. She handles her mixed heritage - Peruvian/Jewish/Catholic matter-of-factly; it's not a non-issue and she's had uncomfortable experiences, but she accepts herself and enjoys the many different facets of her family.
Verdict: I am have been waiting SO LONG for a beginning chapter book with a strong female protagonist, who's into sports, and who is diverse. I can't wait to introduce Lola to my patrons!
ISBN: 9780316258364; Published 2015 by Little Brown and Company; Borrowed from another library in my consortium