Also Known as Lard Butt by Ann Herrick
Publisher: Books We Love, Ltd.
Genre: Middle Grade, Contemporary
Length: Short Story (51 pages)
Age Recommendation: 12+
Heat Level: Sweet
Rating: 3.5 Stars
Review by: Astilbe
Laura finds out that, Ricky, the boy who created her horrible nickname, “Lard Butt,” has moved back into town—and immediately schemes to keep him quiet. After all, she can’t let her new swim teammates, especially drool-worthy Noah, hear the horrible name! No way! She’s determined to put a million years between grade school and junior high—even in the face of a father who drives an éclair, a would-be-movie-star mother who suddenly moves back home, and a past that comes back to haunt her with the dreaded nickname. Although Laura’s embarrassed about how she looks in a swimsuit, she tries to stay true to her vow to take risks. She even lets Maria talk her into going to the school dance, where she braves negotiating a truce for a quarreling couple. New friendships form, Laura’s mother starts getting too domesticated for Laura’s comfort, and hints of romance start to develop—or do they?
Junior high is a tough stage for everyone. Laura has even more troubles at this age than most of her friends do.
Laura’s character development was strong. So much time was spent exploring why she has low self-esteem that I completely understood where this character was coming from. She had good reasons for reacting to the world the way she did. While I wanted her to become healthier emotionally, I also saw why it was so hard for her to do the things she’d need to do in order to reach that goal. I don’t know if Ms. Herrick is planning to write a sequel, but I’d be eager to read it if she does.
There were a few too many conflicts happening at once. While I was really interested in Laura’s complicated relationship with her mother and her painful memories of being bullied in elementary school, I would have liked to see more time spent focusing on her adjustment to junior high school. There was a great deal of material in that plot line that could have been explored in much greater detail. All three plots would have been good fodder for a novel, but there were simply too many of them for a short story of this length.
Some of my favorite scenes in this book involved the friendship between Laura and Maria. They’ve known each other for so many years that both girls can predict what will come out of the other one’s mouth before anything is said at all. It was amusing to see how they reacted to each other because of this, especially when it was related to issues that Laura has struggled with for a long time.
Also Known as Lard Butt was a fun read. I’d recommend it to anyone who knows what it’s like to feel self-conscious about something you can’t easily change.