Lula Bell on Geekdom, Freakdom and the Challenges of Bad Hair
Written by C. C. Payne
“Let your light shine” is the piece of advice from Grandma Bernice that Lula does NOT want to follow. She is bullied by her former BFF, Kali, and she is afraid to try out for the talent show. She wants any friend beside Alan who is a confirmed geek. She wants very badly to fit in and nothing she does brings her closer to that goal. None of that matters to Grandma Bernice who brings love and joy to Lula’s life along with a whole lot of instructions. Lula doesn’t appreciate Grandma Bernice’s sayings until she dies unexpectedly. Lula has a hole in her life that she doesn’t know how to fill. Mama doesn’t have the time to do all that Grandma Bernice used to do. Kali still attacks and the talent show looms. She feels ready to explode. When she least expects it, Lula feels that Grandma Bernice is with her, helping her to find a way to “let her light shine.”
Lula’s strong Southern voice takes center stage in this school story. She puts in little asides by saying “Here’s a little tip for you…” mimicking the way Grandma Bernice gives advice in bite-sized pieces but with her own style. The characters are lovingly drawn and uniquely individual. Once Lula finds the courage to go to Kali’s house to give her Grandma Bernice’s last hand-made quilt, she has embraced her grandmother’s teachings and can face the world again. Because the voice is so strong, this book is a good class read aloud. Students could make a book trailer using Lula’s tips as a script for a literacy activity. There are discussion questions on the author’s website: (http://www.ccpayne.net/lula-bells-discussion-guide/).