Title: Lola Online: The Secret Upstairs Fan Club Party
Author: Shannan and Taylor Stedman
Publisher: Scholastic Australia
Published: February 2021
Synopsis: A brand new exciting series for the Youtube generation
- · Funny, fresh fiction with characters that leap off the page
- · Perfect for reluctant readers
- · Themes include friendship, managing online presence, sibling rivalry, meeting challenges, and country-music loving felines
# MEET LOLA. Lola has her own YouTube channel, a little brother, and a lot to say. Oh, and a rather unusual country- music loving cat, Stampy. It’s time for Lola’s first double digits birthday – which should mean double the fun, right? WRONG. Because when Lola’s crazy number one fan hijacks the party plans, it could end up meaning … double the trouble!
Lola Online #TheSecretUpstairsFanClubParty is the first release in a funny, charming, thoroughly modern new series by two sisters. Inspired by their own little sister, Shannan and Tayla have created a lovable icon for the digital generation. Get ready to #meetLOLA and for the party to begin!
Each generation has had their own literary icons, and some even cross generations – there are many characters in children’s fiction today that I like, just as there are ones frim before I was born. For my generation, we had the girls in The Baby-Sitters Club, Harry Potter and Lyra Belacqua – as well as others I may have forgot, but those are the ones that stand out to me. For a new digital generation, two sisters, Shannan a nd Tayla have created Lola, inspired by their younger sister. Lola evokes what it is like to grow up in a world where you have always had digital influences and social media in your life – where there has to some extent, been no chance to switch off. They have cleverly combined prose that everyone knows, with descriptions of the videos Lola makes and posts to her YouTube channel.
In the first book, we meet Lola and find out what she enjoys doing. She’s about to turn ten, and has a party planned. But she has to narrow her choice down to ten guests, and must compete with her neighbour and enemy Miranda, who always has to outdo Lola, because she doesn’t like to lose. Yet even as Lola tries to keep to her mother’s rules for the party, she discovers that she has a fan club – and Piper, a girl at school, is her number one fan! So when the fan club hijacks Lola’s party, Lola must find a way to run two parties without getting caught out – can she do it?
The book builds to the party, and as one can imagine, the inevitable outcomes of trying to host a secret party, and the risks of being online, but in a fun, and vibrant way that lets kids know about internet safety, friendship and the power of family and friendship. Along for the ride are Vee, Lola’s best friend, and her cat, who loves to dance to Keith Urban, so there’s a little bit of a fantasy element to the character of the cat, who is quite amusing and lovable.
This book is great for reluctant readers as it explores Lola’s world and breaks up the text with video descriptions in the action, and illustrations that bring the story to life. It allows reluctant readers a way into books, especially if they spend a lot of time online or on a screen and gives them something relatable in their books that can hopefully be entertaining as well as educational, or at least open up discussions about friendship and online safety. As Lola meets the challenges thrown at her, young readers will delight in how she faces them and comes to terms with the reality of how she conducts herself online. A great premise and one that is filled with fun!