Please, Louise

Overview

A library card unlocks a new life for a young girl in this picture book about the power of imagination, from the Nobel Prize–winning author Toni Morrison.

On one gray afternoon, Louise makes a fateful trip to the library. With the help of a new library card and through the transformative power of books, what started out as a dull day turns into one of surprises, ideas, and fun, fun, fun!

Inspired by Pulitzer Prize–winning author Toni Morrison’s...

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Overview

A library card unlocks a new life for a young girl in this picture book about the power of imagination, from the Nobel Prize–winning author Toni Morrison.

On one gray afternoon, Louise makes a fateful trip to the library. With the help of a new library card and through the transformative power of books, what started out as a dull day turns into one of surprises, ideas, and fun, fun, fun!

Inspired by Pulitzer Prize–winning author Toni Morrison’s experience working in a library as a young girl, this engaging picture book celebrates the wonders of reading, the enchanting capacity of the imagination, and, of course, the splendor of libraries.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
12/16/2013
The Morrisons (The Tortoise or the Hare) don’t just champion the act of reading: they explain what it does. Reading is valuable, they explain, because it banishes fear. “Scary thoughts are your creation/ when you have no information.” Louise, an Asian girl, sets out for the library in a yellow rain slicker. The trip is scattered with threats: a strange man hunched over a harmonica, a deserted house with dark windows. The narrator pleads with Louise to think clearly instead of reacting reflexively: “Is that house really haunted? Or does it just need care?/ Why not imagine the joy that used to be there?” When Louise enters the library, its shelves open wide around her in an embrace. Strickland (White Water) paints a moving portrait of Louise in tight close-up, completely absorbed in reading. On the way home, the change in Louise’s attitude is reflected in what she sees. While it’s hard to fault the message that books can open minds and perspectives, the delivery suffers from a cajoling narrative tone and an overall roughness to the verse. Ages 4–8. Illustrator’s agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (Mar.)
Children's Literature - Peg Glisson
A young Asian girl looks worriedly out the window, then cautiously emerges and sets off down the street. Rain is threatening, as is her gray environment—a barking dog, hunched over man, abandoned house, junkyard—and she walks timidly along. The narrator encourages her to think more positively “Scary thoughts are your creation/when you have no information.” She enters a library, her “shelter from any storm,” where she is transformed into an absorbed, eager reader, sprawled on the floor, smiling at last in this bright, inviting place. The Morrison’s ode to books and imagination has occasionally awkward rhythms in its rhyming text; its coaxing tone ultimately hits the reader over the head with its message-driven couplets. Strickland’s detailed watercolors, crayon, and pencil illustrations initially have somber overtones which then give way to soft but bright hues as he pictures what her mind is imagining, even showing her dreamingly reading under a willow tree, although she is actually still inside. His expressive close-up of her face as she explores this world in books could easily be on a reading poster. All her fear and sadness is gone as she walks home in the sun, pulling a wagon of books and smiling at the now friendly pooch and sun-splashed neighborhood. Certainly we want Louise (and all youngsters) to be comfortable in her world, to “…understand what she feels,” but a more subtle message would have sufficed. It is slightly disconcerting that such a timid child is out walking the streets without an adult. Reviewer: Peg Glisson; Ages 4 to 7.
Kirkus Reviews
2014-02-05
A young girl sets out on a solitary walk to a surprise destination. With rain threatening, a little girl leaves home by herself wearing bright yellow boots and a slicker. The streets are filled with fearful sights and sounds—a barking dog, a darkened house, a junkyard and a statue of a bird of prey. But then light and shelter from the storm fill the pages as Louise enters a well-stocked library where "Imagination is an open door. / Step in here and let it soar." Louise comfortably stretches out on a rainbow-hued floor to read before walking home, passing the now-friendly dog and people sitting on the steps of the house, now shining brightly in the sun. She sits in front of her own house surrounded by books and then goes inside to settle herself in a cozy window seat to read. The Morrisons, mother and son, write in rhyming couplets with the message firmly hammered home: "[B]ooks can teach and please Louise." Adult readers may find this disconcerting: A child alone on dark and scary streets finds comfort solely from books (even library staff are nowhere to be seen). Strickland's watercolor-and-gouache paintings are delicate, detailed and beautiful. Louise is a lovely child and a poster girl for reading. Still, that there appear to be no caring adults in her world is troubling. An ode to reading that raises too many concerns. (Picture book. 4-7)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781416983385
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books
  • Publication date: 3/4/2014
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 297,130
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison is a Nobel Prize–winning American author, editor, and professor. Her contributions to the modern canon are numerous. Some of her acclaimed titles include: The Bluest Eye, Song of Solomon, and Beloved, which won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1988. She won the Nobel Prize for Literature 1993.

Slade Morrison was born in Ohio and educated in New York City. He studied art at SUNY Purchase and collaborated with his mother, Toni Morrison, on five books for children.

Shadra Strickland studied, design, writing, and illustration at Syracuse University and later went on to complete her MFA at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She won the Ezra Jack Keats Award and the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent in 2009 for her work in her first picture book, Bird, written by Zetta Elliott. Strickland co-illustrated Our Children Can Soar, winner of a 2010 NAACP Image Award. She teaches illustration at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, Maryland. Visit her online at ShadraStrickland.com.

Biography

Toni Morrison has been called "black America's best novelist," and her incredible string of imaginative contemporary classics would suggest that she is actually one of America's best novelists regardless of race. Be that as it may, it is indeed difficult to disconnect Morrison's work from racial issues, as they lie at the heart of her most enduring novels.

Growing up in Lorain, Ohio, a milieu Jet magazine described as "mixed and sometimes hostile," Morrison experienced racism firsthand. (When she was still a toddler, her home was set on fire with her family inside.) Yet, her father instilled in her a great sense of dignity, a cultural pride that would permeate her writing. She distinguished herself in school, graduating from Howard and Cornell Universities with bachelor's and master's degrees in English; in addition to her career as a writer, she has taught at several colleges and universities, lectured widely, and worked in publishing.

Morrison made her literary debut in 1970 with The Bluest Eye, the story of a lonely 11-year-old black girl who prays that God will turn her eyes blue, in the naïve belief that this transformation will change her miserable life. As the tale unfolds, her life does change, but in ways almost too tragic and devastating to contemplate. On its publication, the book received mixed reviews; but John Leonard of The New York Times recognized the brilliance of Morrison's writing, describing her prose as "...so precise, so faithful to speech and so charged with pain and wonder that the novel becomes poetry."

Over time, Morrison's talent became self-evident, and her reputation grew with each successive book. Her second novel, Sula, was nominated for a National Book Award; her third, 1977's Song of Solomon, established her as a true literary force. Shot through with the mythology and African-American folklore that informed Morrison's childhood in Ohio, this contemporary folktale is notable for its blending of supernatural and realistic elements. It was reviewed rapturously and went on win a National Book Critics Circle Award.

The culmination of Morrison's storytelling skills, and the book most often considered her masterpiece, is Beloved. Published in 1987 and inspired by an incident from history, this post-Civil War ghost story tells the story of Sethe, a former runaway slave who murdered her baby daughter rather than condemn her to a life of slavery. Now, 18 years later, Sethe and her family are haunted by the spirit of the dead child. Heartbreaking and harrowing, Beloved grapples with mythic themes of love and loss, family and freedom, grief and guilt, while excavating the tragic, shameful legacy of slavery. The novel so moved Morrison's literary peers that 48 of them signed an open letter published in The New York Times, demanding that she be recognized for this towering achievement. The book went on to win the Pulitzer Prize; and in 2006, it was selected by The New York Times as the single best work of American fiction published in the last 25 years.

In addition to her extraordinary novels, Morrison has also written a play, short stories, a children's book, and copious nonfiction, including essays, reviews, and literary and social criticism. While she has made her name by addressing important African-American themes, her narrative power and epic sweep have won her a wide and diverse audience. She cannot be dismissed as a "black writer" any more than we can shoehorn Faulkner's fiction into "southern literature." Fittingly, she received the Nobel Prize in 1993; perhaps the true power of her impressive body of work is best summed up in the Swedish Academy's citation, which reads: "To Toni Morrison, who, in novels characterized by visionary force and poetic import, gives life to an essential aspect of American reality."

Good To Know

Chloe Anthony Wofford chose to publish her first novel under the name Toni Morrison because she believed that Toni was easier to pronounce than Chloe. Morrison later regretted assuming the nom de plume.

In 1986, the first production of Morrison's sole play Dreaming Emmett was staged. The play was based on the story of Emmett Till, a black teen murdered by racists in 1955.

Morrison's prestigious status is not limited to her revered novels or her multitude of awards. She also holds a chair at Princeton University.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Chloe Anthony Wofford (real name)
      Toni Morrison
    2. Hometown:
      Princeton, New Jersey, and Manhattan
    1. Date of Birth:
      February 18, 1931
    2. Place of Birth:
      Lorain, Ohio
    1. Education:
      Howard University, B.A. in English, 1953; Cornell, M.A., 1955

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