Monday, June 19, 2023

It's Marvelous Middle Grade Monday with a review of Lolo Weaver Swims Upstream by Polly Farquhar

Lolo Weaver Swims Upstream by Polly Farquhar
Publisher:  Holiday House
Format:  Ebook
Number of pages: 240 pages
Published:   April 25th, 2023
Source:  Publisher via Edelweiss +

Opening Lines: "My name is Lolo Weaver.  It's a nickname."

It's the beginning of summer vacation and Lolo is stuck in summer school on account of not passing her state exam.  To make matters worse, she has Mrs. Cryer as her teacher.  She's the teacher known for being the statue of Liberty at the fourth of July parade each year and is considered to be tough.  Lolo thinks Mrs. Cryer hates her.  Especially after she teased her on the first day of class that her nickname, Lolo sounds like she gives off low expectations.

Lolo has also been pretty sad lately.  Pretty soon she's going to be a big sister and her beloved grandfather just passed away and shortly after her grandma sent his dog Hank to a foster family across the lake.  Lolo knows how much Papa loved that foster dog and now that grandma is hurting so much, she knows that Hank is just what she needs to mend her grandma's broken heart.  If only she could get Hank back.  When a medical emergency leads to her mom being hospitalized, and she's forced to move in with her grandma, Lolo hatches a plan to borrow a canoe and travel across the lake to steal Hank back.  

Lolo Weaver Swims Upstream has all the summery vibes even though Lolo's summer is going to be spent going to summer school.   Initially, Lolo and Mrs. Cryer don't appear to get along.  She gives them lots of writing tasks and Lolo doesn't appear ready to discuss her feelings.  She suffers from blank page syndrome; each writing prompt is more difficult for her than the last.  Lolo's still trying to process the new baby that's on the way and grieving over her loss of her grandfather and Hank.  Then theirs her grandma, whose life seems to be at a standstill.  She hasn't got rid of papa's clothes and his shoes are still lined up neatly in the garage.  Lolo's heart aches for her grandma and she is convinced that Hank is the answer.  Hank is a sweet rescue dog who has some serious PTSD which has resulted in an aversion to doorways.  He's a big dog and grandma felt she couldn't manage him anymore.  There's a lot of guilt surrounding Lolo's decision to retrieve Hank, she feels bad that she might've been the cause of him being sent away in the first place.  

I really liked Lolo, she has a quadruple set of problems to start off her summer but doesn't really complain or grumble about it.  She's a take charge kind of person whose heart is really in the right place.  She has a complicated set of emotions and agonizes over doing the right thing by Hank.  Oh, and the humor, so spot on for this age.  I laughed myself silly when Lolo asked Noah if he ever watched a leech removal video and then her contemplating whether or not he was still breathing.  

What I also really enjoyed were all the lovely details about the town and Lolo's family. Who would've thought that reading about goose poop could be so interesting?  There are descriptions about how the city has changed and how all the fun of the lake had dwindled because it had to be drained to fix the dam.  There are even lots of details describing Lolo's teacher and classmates looks and character traits, to the point that I was reminded of one of my teachers.  I was even reminded of The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt in how both of the kid's initial impressions of their teacher changed.  Overall, just a fun read with lovely summer vibes.        

I hope you'll check out all the other Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday posts at Greg Pattridge's blog HERE


  1. This is a really thoughtful review, Brenda, and I keep seeing praise for this story! It sounds like a really tender read that touches on a lot of MG challenges. Thanks so much for sharing!

  2. This sounds a great story from a talented author (who can make goose poop interesting!!!!). I feel very upset over poor Hank and I hope Lolo can arrive at a happy resolution for everyone! Thanks for the recommendation!

  3. The story is unique and your excellent summary of the characters and setting won me over (although I'll withhold judgement on the goose poop until having a chance to read this one). Thanks for being a part of MMGM again.

  4. Not too many books deal with summer school, and Lolo sounds like a great character. I'm curious about the goose poop. Thanks for sharing this book with us. I hadn't heard of it.

  5. Nice review of this book. Yeah, the goose poop line has me curious too!

  6. Well, you make this book sound irresistible. I'm adding it to my TBR list now. I can't wait to find out what happens with Hank. Thanks for the review.