Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
- Age: 3 to 7
- Grade: p to 2
- Reading age: 3 to 7
Loula has had ENOUGH of her TERRIBLE triplet brothers. She's leaving home and going to Africa! Though her quirky parents are too distracted to pay much attention to her plans, Loula has a good friend in the family chauffeur, Gilbert, who gently inquires, “Mademoiselle, may I ask, why Africa?” “Because!” Loula explains. “Africa is far away, very far away, the farthest away I can get from my MEAN, HORRIBLE, STINKY brothers. Plus they are scared of snakes. And if they come, piranhas will eat them.” “Well then,” says Gilbert, “I think Africa is the best destination.” So together, with the help of their imaginations, Loula and Gilbert travel over the sand, through the air and across the water to reach their own special island of Africa. Which, Loula happily discovers at the end of the day, is “not so far away” from home.
Award-winning Anne Villeneuve has created a lovable and memorable character in the irrepressible Loula, who enchants and inspires with her spunk and the unique way she approaches the challenges in her life. Villeneuve's artwork, loosely drawn and painted warmly with watercolors, is both witty and charming, just like her character. This is a wonderful story about independence and adventure that also offers a heartwarming example of the important role a caring adult can play in a child's life. It provides a terrific opportunity to discuss dealing with feelings and how to be resourceful when faced with things that are out of your control.
About the author
Anne Villeneuve has written and illustrated close to 40 books, created games for magazines, illustrated for newspapers and designed cake boxes for a bakery. Over the years, her work has earned her many distinguished recognitions, such as the Governor General's Literary Award and the Québec/Wallonie-Bruxelles Literary Award in 2000, the TD Canadian Children's Literature Award in 2005 and 2009, and the Mr. Christie's Book Award in 1998.
- Short-listed, Blue Spruce, Forest of Reading
- Winner, 2014 Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Award, Ontario Arts Council
- Short-listed, Amelia Frances Howard-Gibbon Illustrator's Award, Canadian Library Association
- Winner, Best Books of the Year for Children and Young Adults, Bank Street Children's Book Committee
- Winner, Toronto Public Library's First & Best List, Toronto Public Library
A sweet (but never saccharine) and tender story of friendship, this one charms in every way.
Villeneuve's sketchy ink-and-watercolor pictures are a good match for this whimsical story in which Africa is a state of mind.
The New York Times
A paean to imagination and an artful acknowledgment of children's needs and frustrations, leavened with poignancy and humor.
Kirkus Reviews - Starred Review
The ink and watercolor illustrations have the classic look of Ludwig Bemelmans's “Madeline” series. Read this title as a part of travel- or siblings-themed storytimes.
School Library Journal
Loula had me at her travel-essentials list, which I won't spoil for you here. I also loved her faintly punk post-"Madeline" style.
Loula makes an admirable heroine, and the chauffeur adds a delightful glimpse into a world where an adult takes make-believe seriously and gallantly.