In Lala’s Words by Gracey Zhang, protagonist Lala is a busy girl. She runs down the street and around the neighborhood even in hot, hot weather. She doesn’t seem to notice how hot it is. Lala’s energy is boundless. Many Asian American and Pacific Islander children may see themselves in Lala’s energy and long black hair.
Lala runs to visit her friends who live in a small dirt lot. There’s a small wire fence she climbs over to get to them. Her friends are the plants in the lot. Her mother calls them weeds, yet Lala tells her plants that she loves them. She carries a huge pot of water to make sure they are not thirsty. Lala often gets dirt on her clothes as she lies on the ground. In a soft voice Lala says sweet, kind words to them. Lala whispers, “Grow strong and tall, my friends.”
One morning, the sun is not as hot. There is a cool breeze that Lala’s neighbors feel. Héctor, her neighbor, sees huge leaves covering the block coming from Lala’s patch of dirt. Her friends grew large and high; they were looking for her. Lala wakes up and looks out her window to see tall beautiful, huge leaves. She yells, “Magnificent, my magnificent friends!” Lala’s words of love are a wonderful example of how we can support each other.
Zhang’s illustrations are full of energy and movement. Readers can feel Lala running around the neighborhood and enjoying her plants. The mostly black and white drawings are accentuated with Lala’s yellow dress and green plants.
This is a fantastic book for children and adults. Let’s all be like Lala who creates a loving world. This book’s message about planting joy is especially needed now during the pandemic. With Lala, Zhang brings love and kindness into life.