Author: Safia Guerras
Illustrator: Mai S. Kemble
Year published: 2012
Publisher: Silverwood Books
Number of pages: 20
Recommended age: 4+
Son Rating: ★★★★☆
Mom Rating: ★★★★☆
Reviewed by: Renee and Dominic (Mother and Son)
Summary (Amazon): This is the amazing story of Lou Lou – a little girl who faces challenges and overcomes them with the magic of love and hope. So pack your suitcases and join Lou Lou on her extraordinary journey!
What it’s about: The book is about a girl named Lou Lou who lives on an island in the Maldives. Lou Lou has to move because the island is getting flooded. She goes away on a boat and meets a mermaid who gives her a magical necklace.
What I liked and disliked: I liked that the book teaches you new things like about the Maldives and where they are. My Mom, my sister, and me looked it up on the globe and found them. I learned about global warming where the ocean is growing and making islands flood and disappear. I was sad for Lou Lou because she had to go away from her home. I also liked that there was a mermaid in the story and I liked that she was helpful.
I liked the pictures in the book. The pictures of the Maldives reminded me of Hawaii with the flowers, palm trees, and the beach. It was a very good idea to put hard words in the back of the book. I learned new words like “global warming”, “protested”, and “astonishing”. But I also knew what lots of the words meant like “encyclopedia”, “hugged”, and “sadder” – those were easy words.
There was nothing I didn’t like about the book.
My bottom line: I liked this book and I would recommend it to kids 9 years old and younger.
What it’s about: This book centres around the main character, Lou Lou, a 6 year old girl who is being evacuated from her home in the Maldives, an archipelago that is disappearing into the ocean because of global warming. The reader is introduced to the nation of the Maldives and the plight facing its inhabitants. We meet Lou Lou as she boards a ship leaving her island nation behind forever. But all hope is not lost as Lou Lou encounters a mermaid who promises to care for her and her family.
What I liked and disliked: Lou Lou’s story is a moving account of the devasting effects of global warming on the lives of island inhabitants in an area predicted to be underwater perhaps as early as the end of this century. Lying a mere 1.5 meters above sea level, the Maldives’ 360,000 citizens are keenly aware of the rising ocean levels caused by climate change. This book was an excellent introduction to these issues for my children. They had never heard of the Maldives and we had a lot of fun finding it on our globe and having discussions on what “global warming” means.
The descriptions of “Paradise Island”, beautifully illustrated through watercolours, along with the characterization of the Maldivian people as “the kindest, most considerate, generous and friendliest people you could ever hope to meet”, had us drawing comparisons to our experiences in Hawaii (another island paradise). It only served to prime us (successfully) to feel shock and dismay at the plight faced by those inhabiting the Maldives.
That being said, I do feel that there was a bit of a missed opportunity to educate children about global warming and climate change in a way made more relevant to them directly. For example, what causes global warming/climate change and what can we do, way on the other side of the globe, to prevent a catastrophe such as the one described in the book? Climate change is a global issue and although the book introduces this concept and demonstrates its effects on a character (and her family) that they could feel compassion for, I don’t think that my kids understood fully that we, as global citizens, both contribute to the problem and form the solution.
I have to admit that I was a bit surprised at the sudden appearance of a mermaid in the story. I did not see that coming. I can understand that the mermaid represented hope for Lou Lou and her family, but I’m not entirely convinced that it was necessary. The kindness of the people that offered to help Lou Lou’s family would have sufficed to demonstrate hope. Of course, I don’t know the author’s plans for future books about Lou Lou so perhaps it was necessary. I also did a quick search to see if mermaids are part of Maldivian mythology and folklore thinking this would justify the inclusion of a mermaid, but I came up blank so I’m left unconvinced.
At the very back of the book, there is a list of words paired with its definition. I’m a bit confused by this list. It includes both more “difficult” words such as encyclopedia (despite what my son says above!), global warming, and continent and words that I think are more simple such as explore, sadder, and spelled. The list is very long (25 words long) and I would argue that at least within countries where English is a first language (e.g., Canada and the U.S.) these words are far too simple to include in this kind of list.
My bottom line: My criticisms of this book are minor in comparison to the value it holds for the reader. I liked that it introduced a new country and culture to my children and that it discussed global warming and climate change and its devastating effects on real people. Overall, we all really enjoyed the book (while she didn’t review it, my daughter says that she liked it). I would recommend this book to children aged 4 and older.
*** Lou Lou was provided to us by the publishing house Silverwood Books free-of-charge in exchange for our honest review. ***
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