Lola Online: #TheSecretUpstairsFanClubParty (Shannan & Tayla Stedman, Omnibus)
Sisters Shannan and Tayla Stedman, children’s entertainers turned authors, try their hands at junior fiction with Lola Online, which comes after the 2018 release of their picture book Harlow and the Lost Laughter. Aimed at the 8–11 age group, the novel tells the story of nine-year-old Lola, a chocolate-loving burgeoning gymnast and YouTube sensation. She plans to film her whole 10th birthday party for her 9k subscribers—however, there are mishaps involving uninvited guests, her musically talented cat, an annoying little brother and an arch enemy from school. Lola Online combines real-life situations (desiring YouTube channel ownership) with fantasy (Lola’s cat Stampy acts like a human) and it’s a strange mix. Although the writing could be stronger, some reluctant readers are sure to pick up the book because of the narrative’s emphasis on YouTube and the internet. The ‘be careful with social media’ message is heralded by Lola’s mum on a few occasions and slots in nicely at the end to highlight the moral of the story—don’t share absolutely everything online. At the end there’s a sneak peek of the next book, so Lola fans are in for an entire series.
Katie Haydon is a former assistant editor of B+P and currently works as a library officer in Geelong.