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Larger-Than-Life Lara

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  193 Ratings  ·  48 Reviews
When Lara Phelps walks into Laney Grafton's fourth-grade class, Laney feels the air change. Lara is fat. Really fat. Finally, there will be someone else for the boys to pick on, Laney thinks. But as the class prepares for the school play, Lara doesn't act the way a fat kid should. She's confident. She's happy. And nothing, it seems, can change her positive attitude. Until ...more
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published August 17th 2006 by Dutton Books for Young Readers
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(showing 1-30 of 373)
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Tia Speed
Jan 25, 2009 Tia Speed rated it really liked it
This is another book I read with my 3rd grade class. The book was well written and engaged my students, it also gave us a great opportunity to talk about how to treat others and bullying. My kids were very upset at how Laura was treated just because she was big. They also found the ending to be very sad. They still want all their books to have happy endings. I think the book was a good one to read with the class however, I did have to edit a few pages because I felt my students to young to read ...more
Mar 28, 2008 Hope rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2008
I cringed all the way through this book, at the thoughtless cruelty of kids and the ability of adults to overlook all the mean stuff that goes on in elementary school classes...but I loved the characters and the resolution. Brava! I think it'd be a great read-aloud in any class where the kids are experiencing an empathy deficit.
Elaine volpe
Aug 18, 2011 Elaine volpe rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Joanne Zienty
Jan 01, 2012 Joanne Zienty rated it really liked it
I was a bit surprised that I enjoyed this book, because when I read the "About the Author" blurb, I couldn't believe that anything of quality could come from a writer who has supposedly written 400 books. I was pleasantly surprised. Larger-than-Life Lara tells the story of fourth-grader Laney Grafton, who is relieved when Lara Phelps joins her class. Grossly obese, yet relentlessly kind, with her quirk of speaking in poetic rhyme, Lara distracts the schoolyard bullies from teasing Laney. Lara's ...more
Sep 10, 2010 Jackie rated it really liked it
Fourth-grader, Laney Grafton, tells her story using the writing techniques taught to her by her teacher, Mrs. Smith. Her story is full of characters, events, and lessons which serve to teach and ponder over. Laney, rather small for her age, and her family, are a rag-tag bunch of wild and free members ever since her mother left. Her brothers are mean and her father is practically non-existent and frequently drunk when around. She is teased by her classmates...that is until someone new comes to cl ...more
Feb 28, 2010 Keegan rated it liked it
Shelves: middle-grade
This story is told in a unique way-- from the perspective of fourth grade Laney with a very, very self-conscious story-writing mindset. This gives it a very childlike voice which would probably annoy some people (and which my husband didn't like when I read part of it to him), but it worked okay for me. I love how the plot is fairly simple, but it's endowed with all the impact that it would actually have on these kids. The profound simplicity of the plot, combined with the characters that fit ju ...more
Jan 04, 2008 babyhippoface rated it really liked it
Shelves: kids-fiction
Getting a new kid in your class is always a big deal, but when Laney Grafton's 4th grade class is joined by Lara Phelps, it's a much bigger deal than anyone expected--in more ways than one. Laney estimates Lara's weight at about 300 pounds. No kidding. But the thing that's even bigger than Lara's body is Lara's smile; no matter what kinds of horrible, hateful, teasing her classmates throw at her--and 4th graders can be awfully cruel--Lara remains positive, upbeating, kind, and encouraging to tho ...more
Libby Ames
Aug 28, 2013 Libby Ames rated it really liked it
Ten-year-old Laney Grafton has never met anyone like Lara Phelps. Lara is so large that she can’t fit in a regular classroom desk or sit on a bench in the cafeteria, but that isn’t what fascinates Laney. She is astounded that Lara is large, but confident. Lara takes teasing or cruelty and returns smiles and kind words. She sees the best in her classmates and chooses to focus on the good in spite of the opposition and meanness shown her. However, even Lara Phelps can be pushed too far.

Through the
Nov 06, 2013 Theresa rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction
When Lara Phelps walks into Laney Grafton's fourth-grade class, Laney feels the air change. Lara is fat. Really fat. Finally, there will be someone else for the boys to pick on, Laney thinks. But as the class prepares for the school play, Lara doesn't act the way a fat kid should. She's confident. She's happy. And nothing, it seems, can change her positive attitude. Until one day, when Laney's classmates do the unthinkable.
Bestselling author Dandi Daley Mackall tells this original and poignant s
Feb 21, 2014 Melissa rated it really liked it
Shelves: children-chapter
I read this book from a teacher's point of view and found it deeply disturbing. Lara, one of the main characters was harassed and bullied beyond imagination. I wish it had ended on a stronger note, but I suppose it was more true to life with regret and sadness.
Dec 02, 2012 Yoonmee rated it really liked it
Good book for 3-5th graders with a nice moral. The book doesn't end happily, but I can definitely see this being a great teaching tool in classrooms b/c there are so many topics to discuss -- bullying, weight, being the new kid in school, alcoholism, single parent families, sibling relationships, and, heck, even story structure.

There wasn't necessarily a religious undertone to the book, but I wondered if maybe there was a subtle one. Lara is almost Jesus-like figure in the book -- branded as di
Diana Pettis
Jul 18, 2014 Diana Pettis rated it really liked it
I think this should be a read aloud book for students in grades 4 and above. I really liked the message the author gives us about Lara.
Nov 01, 2014 Jen rated it liked it
Good book for middle school age kids- brilliantly deals with many issues they deal with day in and day out.

!!! The way this book made me feel is so hard to put into words! Of, course, I cried. I bawled at the piggy part. I'll try not to spoil everything, but I also love the brother/sister moment. That was beautiful!

This book was just totally well written, now one of my favorites, and teaches such a powerful, moving lesson about bullying and just being a bystander. Also, just standing up for your self!

This book is one EVERYBODY should read, because, it kinda shows two sides of a bullying story, and ho
Sep 30, 2011 Crystal rated it really liked it
The story is told from the perspective of a fourth grade student in a class that has a serious lack of empathy for a new student that is quite large. Though Lara is bullied repeatedly she maintains a positive attitude and continues to reach out in friendship. The book does not have a Disney ending, but a more realistic and logical ending. This might be tough for young kids, but it is a tough subject. I thought the author did a fabulous job of giving us the tough stuff with a gentle hand. She cre ...more
Sep 02, 2009 Erin rated it liked it
This book really should have been 2.5 stars. It was a twist on the "you shouldn't make fun of the fat girl" story, but instead of showing her as a victim (like Judy Blume's Blubber or Barthe DeClements Nothing's Fair in Fifth Grade", the fat girl is portrayed as an artistic interesting person who helps others see the good in themselves or realize the bad they have done. It reminded me a lot of "Stargirl" but for younger readers.
Apr 20, 2008 Jenny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is focused around Lanet Gafton and her telling a story how a new girl in her class changed the whole atmosphere of her fifth grade class. However no one really realizes just how much Lara has effected their lives until their ugliness causes her parents to take her out of their school.Good book that deals with bullies. obesity,family problems, and prejudices.
Jan 21, 2012 Heather rated it really liked it
When I started reading this book aloud to my class I was embarrassed to read something so cruel, and the kids were noticably bothered, but we stuck it out. It had come recommended by a friend because of the use of plot elements for chapters. The message was amazing and in the end we all agreed we were glad we followed through and didn't abandon the book early on.
Feb 13, 2012 Ke'tara rated it really liked it
This book is about a girl named Lara who is over weight but the book was kind of about her class. On the front cover of the book there is a green polka dot dress. I really like the book because Lara really stood up to her classmates. I would recommend this book to people who have been bullied because of their child hood obesity. I really like this book
Mar 22, 2014 Cara rated it really liked it
I go back and forth between liking this book and thinking it's a bit cheesy. My 5th grade class loved it. There were places where it was hard to read aloud if I slipped out of the role of the narrator, but it was fine when I read silently. I liked the book for what it reminded me about how we /children treat each other.
Jul 26, 2008 Avi rated it did not like it
OMG, this was one of the most horrible books i have ever read in my entire life. It was so boring and stuiped and didn't make any sense. i hated this book very much and reccomend it to someone who wants to be bored out of their wits and spend and hour trying to figure it out. I give this book a 1 star rating.
Jul 15, 2008 Greta rated it it was amazing
Shelves: juvenile
Laney, a 4th grader tells the story about what happens when Lara, becomes a new member of her class. "She's larger than life and she's the kind of person you never forget." This was a powerful story within a story about prejudice, cruelty, and forgiveness. Masterfully crafted and creatively written!
Jan 14, 2013 Terri rated it it was amazing
This was such a clever way to teach children about compassion and the art of writing. Great characters, believable dialogue and wonderful story line. It was so refreshing to read a story that I where I was unable to predict the ending. Loved this. My 12 year old daughter is reading it now.
Feb 05, 2009 Rene rated it liked it
This book is basically Blubber (by Judy Blume) meets Carrie (Stephen King) with a parallel to Jesus "dying" for our sins. This book is okay to a point and then the ending sucked. It's all wrapped up neatly and you can almost hear the afterschool special music. I give this book a C.
Nov 26, 2013 Teri rated it liked it
This was a great book about bullying and a funny way to teach writing topics. The author does a nice job of using the elements of writing to tell the story of Lara, a fat girl at a new school. The kids are really mean to her, but all the while she is nice to everyone.
Feb 21, 2008 Terri rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: 3-6 grades, language arts teachers
Lara is almost too good to be believable, but it was so nice to read about a girl who displays self-confidence and kindness despite her weight problem. Language arts teachers will find this easy-to-read novel a jewel for teaching literary elements.
Dec 17, 2009 Jackie rated it liked it
Lara moves to a new school and is very cruelly treated, even though she helps all of her fourth grade classmates and keeps a positive attitude. Mackall writes a story within a story with her "How to Write a Story" as her template.
Jun 01, 2008 Laurel rated it really liked it
Recommended to Laurel by: the author!
I read this book after attending a conference where I got to meet the author, Dandi Daley-Mackall. It's actually a young-adolescent book, so it was a very quick read. But it's a sweet story of how unexpected people can touch our lives.
Oct 26, 2010 Michelle rated it it was amazing
Loved the format of this book. The narrator is telling us how to write a story while telling the story. This would make a great class read aloud for 4th or 5th grade.
Apr 05, 2008 Megan rated it it was amazing
Why don't you people warn me about these things? When I get done crying, I will be writing a review at Read, Read, Read!
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A professional writer for over 20 years, Dandi Daley Mackall has written dozens of articles for popular magazines and published around 400 books for children and adults alike, with sales of over 4 million.
A frequent guest on radio and television talk shows, she lives in rural Ohio with her husband, three children, horses, dogs, & cats.
More about Dandi Daley Mackall...

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