A Junior Library Guild selection
Praise for Lala's Words:
Winner of the 2022 Ezra Jack Keats Illustrator Award!
"Zhang's style, blending warmhearted mltiethnic urban caricature with a bold-lined rough-and-tumble zeal, is wholly original. And like the compliment Lala pays her soon science-fiction-size plants, this debut picture book (which also depcits a burgeoning mother-daughter relationship) is 'magnificient.'" New York Times Book Review
"This is the enchanting story about the power of words." Booklist
"Lala’s enthusiasm blossoms on the page." Kirkus Reviews
“A verdant tale of leaves, language, and most importantly, love.”— Molly Idle (author-illustrator of Pearl; Flora and the Flamingo)
“Much like an encouraging word, Gracey’s vibrant pictures will lift you up.” Christian Robinson (author of Another; illustrator of Last Stop on Market Street)
“A touching fantasy rooted in reality. Gracey’s art recalls children’s books masters . . . Ludwig Bemelmans, Roger Duvoisin, David Small. Yet it is fresh and lovely and hasn’t been seen before." LeUyen Pham (illustrator of Bear Came Along; Grace for President)
“Lala’s Words is really about magic; a special kind of magic called kindness. Like the sunlight and falling rain, kindness nourishes the world around us. This book, with its lovely art and whimsical story, will also nourish the reader.” The Fan Brothers (author-illustrators of Ocean Meets Sky; The Night Gardener)
A small girl, full of energy and color, brings her love of nature to a dull gray city.
In the heat of the heavy, hot summer, everyone in a black-and-gray–hued city is still…except for Lala, in an effervescent yellow dress, who’s jumping, running, and tripping across the page. Her exasperated mother does not understand this whirlwind of energy, frowning at a floor covered in clutter or exclaiming about dirt tracked on the floor. Blithe Lala, however, loves nothing more than to visit an empty lot around the corner, where she tends to the weeds and scraggly plants—rendered in vibrant greens with yellow highlights—whom she considers friends. But on the hottest day of summer, when her mother finally forbids her to step foot outside, “Lala cried and cried. Who would visit her little friends?” She sends her love out to the plants in whispers all day, and the next morning, the neighborhood wakes to a miraculous sight. A giant green plant now covers the entire neighborhood with its shade! More importantly, Lala’s neighborhood now also glows the same bright yellow as Lala’s dress, and her mother recognizes her inner light. Zhang’s message extolling the benefits of tending to nature is a bit too on the nose, but her use of only two colors—yellow and green—against a gray city to convey the exuberance of Lala’s love and the rejuvenating force of nature is lovely. Lala and her mother both have straight, black hair and skin the white of the page.
Lala’s enthusiasm blossoms on the page. (Picture book. 3-7)