Reviewed October 19, 2010.
Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin), 2010. 36 pages.
Sonderbooks Stand-out 2010: #2 Picture Books
A big thank-you to Betsy Bird for calling my attention to this book on her Fuse #8 blog.
This is another favorite of the year so far for me -- another one with such wonderful illustrations, I hope it gets some Caldecott attention.
Lulu has already made an appearance in Ladybug Girl, and today her family is going to the beach. She has a ladybug swimsuit, complete with wings and antennae.
Lulu is excited to come to the beach. But then (in a stunning two-page spread) she sees the big waves and thinks it's a good day for just making sand castles. Her dog, Bingo is a steadfast companion through the whole book.
Of course sand castles don't last all day. They fly a kite, get some ice cream...
The whole book feels so real. It brings me right back to my first few times at the beach. The first time she gets her feet wet:
Suddenly a wave crashes into her legs and nearly knocks her over.
Just as she gets her balance the whirling water races back and tries to pull her in. Her feet get buried in the sand up to her ankles.
"Are you okay, Bingo?" Lulu asks. She looks around to see if anyone noticed that they were almost carried away, but everyone is playing just as they were before.
The pictures that accompany this section are perfect -- first tentatively dipping a toe in the water, then bracing against the splash of a wave, then bracing the other way and trying to keep her balance as the water rushes out, leaving big swathes in the sand in front of their feet.
The whole book so beautifully catches Lulu's mood -- happy, a little scared, kind of tired, a little bored -- and then, determined!
Lulu gets determined when she's digging in the sand for pirate treasure and the tide comes in and tries to take away her favorite pail. That's when she remembers that she is Ladybug Girl!
Ladybug Girl isn't afraid of anything!
From then on, we see Ladybug Girl and Bingo playing happily in and out of the water.
Ladybug Girl and Bingo play until the bright blue sky turns pink. They make footprints in the sand.
At least 14 miles of them, Ladybug Girl thinks. Every time the ocean erases them, they make more.
Reading this book will make you remember what it's like to be a child at the seashore. And don't let me stop urging you to take a look at this book yourself to see the exquisite watercolor paintings. They're playful, they're gorgeous, they're joyful, and most of all the artist knows how to perfectly portray a little girl who still has a tummy and loves being Ladybug Girl. Beautiful!