La la la by Kate DiCamillo

cover image

Ill. by Jaime Kim. Walker Books, 2017. ISBN 9781406378009
(Age: 4+) Voice. Singing. Loneliness. The young girl on the front cover loves to sing, but wants to share her singing with someone else. She is hesitant, looking longingly at her front door, and eventually moves through the door into the world outside. Here it is golden and light filled, and she moves through this environment, singing, trying to attract someone else. She goes back inside, but the swirling leaves call her again and she moves outside into the darker space. She sings again, to no avail, but sees the large white circle of the moon shining. She tries to climb to the moon, singing all the while, but still there is no one there.
Disappointed yet again, she retreats to her house, her small voice singing the words to herself, but this time she hears them come back to her as someone responds.
Author Kate DiCamillo is well known for her stories of children not usually seen in children's books. Because of Winn-Dixie is a superb story of one girl's school year as she is forced to go to an integrated school after a law change. Raymie Nightingale looks at a child for whom winning a competition is the epitome. In these books, favourites of mine, I can see hints of the child in La la la: all children are hesitant, unsure of what to make of their situation, trying to find a friend in a world that seems hostile.
In La la la, the world eventually becomes less hostile, and she finds a friend.
Children will love filling in the story, adding words to this almost wordless picture book, as they see the child striving to take charge of her situation. Many will recognise themselves in this story, the hesitation at meeting new people, the loneliness of not making an effort to go outside, striving to be part of someone else's life, of finding a friend. Kim's illustrations reflect her feelings of being alone as a child, being hesitant and timid. The pictured girl is a small figure on a large white page, emphasising her aloneness for most of the story. A story of hope.
Fran Knight