March 2013 Issue
January 01, 1900

Check it Out


Lula Bell on Geekdom, Freakdom & the Challenges of Bad Hair

By C.C. Payne

Recommended by: Katrina Williams, Greenwich Elementary School, Greenwich Teacher's Association

Suitable for: Grades 3-6

Why I chose this book: Lula Bell Bonner is having a tough time surviving fifth grade.

Her attempts to blend into the background and go unnoticed aren't working. Classmate Kali Keele is determined to draw Lula Bell into the spotlight by making her the object of ridicule and scorn. As a result, Lula Bell finds herself without any friends — unless you count Alan West.

With his crazy hair and the weird scar on his cheek, Alan dispenses wise but unwanted advice to Lula Bell, who sees him not as a friend but an embarrassment. Home is her only refuge, where each afternoon she finds tenderness and acceptance from her very best friend, Grandma Bernice.

With sincerity and sensitivity, author C.C. Payne takes her audience on Lula Bell's sometimes difficult journey of ostracism and loss — but one that leaves readers feeling uplifted and hopeful at the end.

What I like best: C.C. Payne quickly draws readers in and keeps them captivated with her wit, Southern flavor and realistic portrayal of life as a fifth-grader.

How teachers can use this book: Teachers, school psychologists and parents can use this book as a springboard into a discussion about death, grief, true friends and fitting in. If used as a read-aloud, be sure to have plenty of tissues on hand!

About the author: At, this Kentucky author reveals that she had a very special teacher, Mrs. Saylor, who "saw something in me and encouraged me. She was also determined that I would be a reader, and she continued lending me books until we found the books I loved, and suddenly, I became a reader!"

"Check it Out" features books recommended to teachers and parents by school librarians. Have a recommendation? School librarians may send suggestions, along with your name and local union, to