La La La: A Story of Hope

Book review by
Jan Carr, Common Sense Media
La La La: A Story of Hope Book Poster Image
Girl serenades the moon in dreamy, nearly wordless book.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Since words are simple and repeated ("La la la" and "zzz..") beginning readers can recognize them. In a nearly wordless book, there's an opportunity to make up and voice your own text for the story.

Positive Messages

When you're lonely, you can reach out. When you don't get what you're trying for, you can persist. Sometimes things are resolved when you take a breather. The universe is joyous and responsive.

Positive Role Models & Representations

When lonely, the girl reaches out for connection. She's hopeful, and she persists when at first she gets no response. She loves to sing and is joyous when she connects with the moon.

Violence & Scariness
Language

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that La La La: A Story of Hope is nearly wordless but is based on a concept by two-time Newbery-winning author Kate DiCamillo (The Tale of Despereaux) and lushly illustrated by Jaime Kim. The story's simple: A girl sings "La La La," hoping for a friend, and when night falls, the moon sings back. The little girl pictured in the art sweetly expresses an array of recognizable emotions ranging from yearning to despair to hope to joy. The book's inviting. Readers can bask in its moody moonlight and sing along with its "La La La La La" chorus.

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What's the story?

In LA LA LA: A STORY OF HOPE, a young girl, alone and lonely, sings "La," and scuffs the floor. When golden leaves drift down, she follows them out to a tree, singing "La La La" the while. But no one sings back -- not the leaves, not the tree -- and the girl looks dejected. When night falls, she climbs a ladder and sings to the moon, but the ladder's too short, and no voice responds. Then, she hears a "LA!" in the deep purple night. It's the moon! The girl and the moon raise their voices together in song.

Is it any good?

This sweet, moving, gorgeously illustrated book has the barest text, but accomplishes a lot with a little. Author Kate DiCamillo came up with the concept for La La La: A Story of Hope, hoping to create a story that people around the world could relate to and share, despite language differences. Illustrator Jaime Kim fleshed out the story, creating a charming little pixie of a girl with an appealingly expressive face. Like many effective bedtime stories, this book is dreamy, straddling some misty space between wakefulness and sleep.

Kim uses warm, honeyed yellows and oranges to mark the day, and rich red-violets for night. Who needs words when you have such gorgeous art?

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the feelings expressed in La La La: A Story of Hope. How do you think the girl feels at various points in the story? How does she feel at the end?

  • Why do you think the author decided to use so few words? When you read it, do you like to sing along with the girl? Do you like to make up the words to the story?

  • What parts of the story are in day, and when does it turn to night? Why do you think the artist chose deep reddish purple to illustrate the night? What colors would you choose if you were painting it?

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