cover image Lala’s Words: A Story of Planting Kindness

Lala’s Words: A Story of Planting Kindness

Gracey Zhang. Orchard, $18.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-338-64823-2

Lala, an active child, knows instinctively how to speak words of love to living beings. “Lala, stay still!” her mother says. But when Lala talks to the weeds she nurtures in a nearby vacant lot, she uses different words than her mother’s, and she says them a different way. “You are stripy and lovely,” she murmurs, belly down in the dirt, her face buried in a bright new seedling. Newcomer Zhang’s ink lines capture Lala’s city neighborhood in animated, expressive brushstrokes—the child’s yellow dress and the green leaves of the plants stand out in an otherwise black-and-white world. “You’re covered in dirt!” her mother cries when Lala returns. It’s hot, and her mom’s patience is wearing thin: “Today you are staying at home,” she orders. Lala listens to neighborhood sounds (“She counted buses wheezing past, listened to Mr. Piatek hum to his radio”) and longs for her plants, whispering to them across the distance: “Hello, hello, friends.” And a small miracle comes to pass as Lala’s plants show her what she means to them. Zhang’s powerful debut lifts up the power words have to heal and feed. Ages 4–8. [em]Agent: Hannah Mann, Writers House. (July) [/em]