Sunday, September 24, 2017

La La La: A Story of Hope

La La La: A Story of Hope. Kate DiCamillo. Illustrated by Jaime Kim. 2017. Candlewick. 72 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: La

Premise/plot: La La La: A Story of Hope is a nearly wordless picture book by Kate DiCamillo. Readers meet a young girl who appears to be lonely AND imaginative. She speaks to the world in la la la's. This one is subtitled "a story of hope." Will the girl's voice finally be heard? Will she find someone to sing back a response?

My thoughts: Without the notes from Kate DiCamillo and Jaime Kim would I have understood the message of La La La? I'd like to say yes--that the illustrations and the simple refrain powerfully, unmistakably told an incredibly beautiful and haunting story that most everyone can relate to easily. But. Just as the girl struggled with loneliness, I struggled to fully get the story. (Emphasis on fully).

It appears that the girl was at her loneliness when the pages were blank--devoid of color. But sometimes her singing led her out into the world--into nature--and the colorful scenes of this one were majestic. There would be pages of the little girl--though still alone--being happy, almost joyful. But this never seemed to last. She'd return to the blankness of her life.

The main plot point--the highlight--seems to be when she sees the moon and wants to reach out to it. Like the moon represents everything missing in her life. But it's too far away--too out of reach. She tries...and fails. But the story doesn't end there. The story ends with the moon coming down to her--echoing back her song.

What does it all mean? Is there one big, obvious meaning? Who--or what--is the moon? What does it symbolize? And how does the symbolism relate back to the real world? How can this story about a girl and the moon singing beautiful harmony together help an actual little girl with her loneliness? Is it about being at one-ness with the universe? Is it about the splendor of nature--the healing effects of nature? Could it be a spiritual thing--a symbol of God being there, being enough? If I struggle as an adult with what the story is about, would a child struggle more or less with interpreting the story?

Text: 2.5 out of 5
Illustrations: 4.5 out of 5
Total: 7 out of 10

© 2017 Becky Laney of Young Readers

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