The Taming of Lola: A Shrew Story

Book review by
Darienne Stewart, Common Sense Media
The Taming of Lola: A Shrew Story Book Poster Image
Dueling tantrums lead to a truce -- and lessons.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value
Positive Messages

Not a straightforward message of "don't act like this" to kids, but still a clever way to get some bad behavior under control -- pitting Lola against her cousin who is also used to getting his way. Whether grownups should leave the cousins to scream, sulk, and squabble it out themselves or take a more active role in taming the behavior is up for interpretation.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Lola and Lester make some progress and Lola becomes less inclined to pitch a fit -- but they’re still rather disagreeable characters. And the parents, while understandably exasperated, do very little parenting.

Violence & Scariness

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Lola behaves awfully and her parents, who have given up trying to rein her in themselves, try to get her equally spirited cousin to do the job for them. Some parents may agree with this approach, some not, but it makes for a good discussion with kids -- especially those often in squabbles with siblings. Lola does improve her attitude over the course of the story, but she clearly remains a prickly personality. She’s an extreme example of bad behavior and presented with humor -- children will appreciate being able to laugh at her, and are unlikely to imitate her.

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What's the story?

Lola is the most disagreeable shrew in the West Meadow. She throws such frequent, stubborn tantrums, everyone just gives in to her demands. But she meets her match when cousin Lester comes to stay. She’s furious that he’s given whatever he wants, and the two have something of a temper tantrum duel. But Lola comes to realize that they’re spending so much time screaming at each other, they’re missing out on things they’d rather be doing -- like swimming and tunneling and picnicking. Together, they find a way to share the home in relative peace.

Is it any good?

Parents and kids alike will giggle at Lola’s over-the-top antics in this book organized in five short acts. Grownups hoping she gets straightened out will be disappointed. But kids will be happy to enjoy a book that dishes out a lesson without being heavy-handed. Lola learns the error of her ways, but she won’t change who she is. By compromising -- just a little -- she actually gets more of what she wants.

Jerry Smath’s watercolor illustrations of a fully imagined meadow world are packed with humor. And his characters are full of feeling, from the woebegone look on the faces of Lola’s parents to the narrowed eyes of stubborn cousins to the fearful expressions on the faces of siblings trying to stay out of Lola’s way.

Expressive characters and lots of clever, funny details -- like the six-axle car for the shrew family, and the adversaries’ equitable division -- by decapitation -- of Lola’s toy grub.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Lola’s behavior. Why do you think she acts like that? What would happen if you threw tantrums all the time like Lola?

  • How do you think her parents, brothers, and sisters feel when Lola is having a tantrum? Do you think her parents are right to give in to her?

  • Do you think she and Lester are friends? Do you think she’s had many friends?

  • How do you calm down when you're upset?

  • Have you ever missed out on something fun because you were having a tantrum over something that really wasn’t important?

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