cover image Youpala, Queen of the Jungle

Youpala, Queen of the Jungle

Youpala. Larousse Kingfisher Chambers, $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-1-85697-625-1

The heroine of this exuberant offering, a girl in an African village, shares her name with the author, a puppeteer in France. The fictional Youpala is known in the community as Youpala Impalapa, ``the little girl who asks thousands of questions,'' and her imagination clearly works overtime-or does it? Here she roams a jungle filled with tree-climbing lions, crocodiles that knit sweaters and giraffes that love a cup or two of tea. Just as the reader feels sure that Youpala is dreaming, it emerges that she has wandered onto a film set (``I didn't understand a word [the man with the loudspeaker] was saying. I had no idea what a movie was''). Soon she lands the lead role in the movie ``Queen of the Jungle.'' While the text is a little choppy, Youpala's joie de vivre is disarming. Fluid, occasionally abstract illustrations present a lush, exotic jungle splashed with sunset hues of orange, purple and pink. Dramatic use of black brush strokes to outline or define object adds both a cartoon humor and a dash of dynamism. Ages 4-7. (Sept.)