Sunday, January 20, 2019

Review - Kiki: My Stylish Life

Kiki: My Stylish Life (Lotus Lane #1)
by Kyla May
Date: 2013
Publisher: Scholastic Inc.
Reading level: C
Book type: illustrated chapter book
Pages: 96
Format: e-book
Source: library

Meet the Lotus Lane Girls!

This series is part of Scholastic's early chapter book line called Branches, which is aimed at newly independent readers. With easy-to-read text, high-interest content, fast-paced plots, and illustrations on every page, these books will boost reading confidence and stamina. Branches books help readers grow!

Kiki, Coco, and Lulu are the BEST of friends. They even have their very own club! But Mika, the new girl, is shaking things up on Lotus Lane. This first book is written as Kiki's diary--with illustrations and doodles throughout. Kiki LOVES creating cool outfits, hanging out with friends, and collecting fun facts like these:

Fact: I am a member of the Lotus Lane Girls Club.

Fact: I will one day be a VERY famous fashion designer.

Fact: My new neighbor Mika is trouble--triple trouble!

Fact: Even chickens must look their best.

Read Kiki's diary to find out all about life on Lotus Lane!

(synopsis from Goodreads)

This is the sort of book I probably would've loved when I was a kid... while my mom would've hated it. As an adult, I totally understand why she might've felt that way; I wouldn't want to give this to my daughter, either. It's unbelievably vapid, with stupid characters and an emphasis on clothes that's almost nauseating.

Kiki (our narrator of unknown origin) is one of three girls in the Lotus Lane Girls Club. This is a made-up club where the girls do things like bake cupcakes and give their pets spa days. Her friends are Coco (of Italian descent) and Lulu (of French descent). You might be wondering why I'm talking about their backgrounds. Well, it comes up later as a plot point when a new girl from Japan, Mika, comes on the scene and tries to steal Kiki's fashion thunder by "copying" her and doing kimono designs. Kiki acts all self-righteous, complaining about how Mika should've done something else, and continually calling her a "meanie". Now, I don't know about you, but I would think that the girl who's actually from Japan should have first dibs on doing a cultural Japanese design.

While Kiki's engaging in cultural appropriation, Mika's engaging in dog appropriation by basically stealing Kiki's dog to use as a model. This part of the plot is absolutely ridiculous; you cannot for a moment tell me that a kid Mika's age would take Kiki's words as permission to take her dog! It makes me wonder if there's something wrong with Mika's social skills. The ease with which Kiki forgives her also doesn't ring very true. (If someone stole my dog, making me believe that it had escaped and run away for half a day, I would be livid. But Kiki's so easily distractable with fashion and accolades that she kind of just lets it slide.)

I can see that the author was trying to write about a diverse group of girls here, but they're really all just carbon copies of each other with only the tiniest hints of diversity. Coco and Lulu are both of European descent, of which we're continually reminded (like Lulu's father making the girls French toast, even though it's not actually a French dish... or Coco's Italian family being obsessed with pasta). They're all into the same hobbies (i.e., they're basically all artists) who like the same things. It would've been nice to see one of them into STEM topics. But, no, we just have girls with stereotypical (bordering on offensive) interests: Kiki is obsessed with clothes, Coco is a good cook, and Lulu just wants to save lots of money.

The pictures didn't do anything for me. I guess they're supposed to look like doodles in a kid's journal, but for someone who's supposedly so into fashion, Kiki's drawings of stick figures are really underwhelming. She'd better brush up on her drawing skills if she really wants to follow that career path.

I got this from the library as part of a 4-book set. I have zero desire to read any of the other books. 96 pages of vapid materialism and tween angst is more than enough for me.

Plot: 2/5
Characters: 2/5
Pace: 2/5
Writing & Editing: 2/5
Illustrations: 1/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 0/5

Overall: 1.38 out of 5

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