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Larger-Than-Life Lara

 Larger-Than-Life Lara. Dandi Daley Mackall; Dutton, 2006.

Grade Level: 3-5

ISBN & Cost: HB: 0525477268 $16.99


Blanket Permission to Reproduce Book Jackets:

Preferred wording: Larger-Than-Life Lara by Dandi Daley Mackall. Copyright © 2006. Used with permission of Dutton Children’s Books, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group.

Synopsis: Fourth-grader Laney has always been the one picked on until obese Lara joins their class. Laney sees the changes Lara makes in all their lives even while being bullied. Laney gives an inside look using writing techniques she has learned from her teacher.

General Review:

When obese Lara joins Laney’s class everyone is at first shocked. Lara is bigger than the

teacher. She can’t fit in the regular desk or the lunch tables. Laney is relieved because Lara has distracted the bullies from her. The bullying upset Laney but Lara seems to be able to handle it with a smile and rhymed couplets until something happens to break her spirit. Laney wants everyone to know how Lara has changed the lives of the students in her class. She decides to write a story using the techniques she learns from her teacher. Each chapter is titled after an element of writing (conflict, suspense). While reading the story of Lara you also learn a lot about Laney’s life. An enjoyable book that could be used for a starting off point to a discussion about bullying or writing.

Themes: Authorship, Bullies, Prejudices, Obesity, Family problems, Schools

Author information:

Discussion Questions: (Standard 3; Benchmark 3)

  1. Sometimes we meet people that really make an impression on us. Lara was that way with Laney and her classmates. Can you think of anyone you have met like Lara? What impression did they leave with you? What about characters in books you have read?
  • At some point in our lives we have all had nicknames. Some are fun, some are name related but some are hurtful. Lara was given the nickname of “Larger-than-life” Lara because of her size. What are some hurtful nicknames that you have had or used in relationship to someone else?
  • There is a fine line between fun teasing and cruel teasing? Can you think of examples of both? How can we tell the difference? When reading a story the author may not tell you all about a character. The author wants you to gain knowledge about them through what they say and do. What information did we learn about Laney? Give examples from the book that shows this information.


  1. Research different eating problems that children have today. Make a chart showing the different problems and the number of children affected by them. Share your results with the class. (Standard 3: Benchmark 4)
  2. Memorize a poem by dividing the word into rhythmic sections, the way Lara taught Laney to do. Share the poem with the class. Standard 5: Benchmark 1
  3. Think back to a special event in your life. Write down everything you remember about it. After taking notes, write a short story about the event to share with the class. (Standard 4: Benchmark 2)
  4. Everyday people accomplish things that they can be proud of even though it may not be much for us. For example, someone may have read their first book or got a 100% on a math paper. Look around your classroom and write a congratulation card to someone for an accomplishment no matter how small. (Standard 9: Benchmark 2)

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