The Lulu series of books captures the world of small children and the little details that matter most to them. In this latest title Lulu experiences a rite of passage that may trouble little ones initially but in the hands of Anna McQuinn and Rosalind Beardshaw it becomes a life experience that is both joyful and positive. This is a gorgeous, perfect picture book for young children.
Lulu has visited her cousin, Hani, many times but she has never spent the whole night there. As she prepares for her very first sleepover Lulu packs everything she might need, including her favourite books, her Mary-Mary doll and her cuddly toy cat, Dinah. At Hani’s house the two girls build, paint, play, dress up and watch movies. Lulu tries out some food she’s never tasted before and discovers that it is delicious. At bedtime they snuggle up for stories before they fall asleep. In the morning, after a breakfast treat, Daddy arrives to collect Lulu with a big hug. Lulu has loved her first sleepover and can’t wait to do it all over again!
Lulu’s Sleepover is tender, full of warmth and family love. This lovely picture book will reassure young children with its positive and kindly tone. The emphasis throughout the story is on sharing, exploring and trying new things together in a safe and loving environment. Both the text and illustrations capture the world of small children and the everyday minutiae that is so important to them and their sense of security. The detail is simply perfect. It is important to linger and look at the pictures and take in slowly what the text is emphasising. When Lulu and Daddy arrive Hani and Auntie Jina are making lemonade and when Daddy says goodbye we can see that already Lulu is clutching a cup of lemonade, already participating in the other family’s life. When the girls go out to play in the garden changed in to their dungarees they have already swapped bracelets which by the next morning has extended to swapping of pyjamas. This emphasis on sharing and swapping is beautifully executed. We join Lulu as she joins in with a family different to her own but one that she enjoys being part of.
The story is inclusive in a subtle, natural and supportive manner and celebrates the bond between extended and diverse families. There are many lovely moments such as Lulu’s hand nestled on her Auntie as she watches the TV. The language and the story also encourage imaginative play. When the girls run excitedly into the garden they are playing in a ‘rainforest’, when they are busy with blocks and watering cans they are ‘building’ and experiencing ‘waterfalls’. There are lots of activities and quiet moments incorporated into the story that children will recognise and replicate. The illustrations are full of vibrant patterns and shapes, colours and items to recognise, name and talk about. This is most definitely a book with opportunities for learning.
This is a treasure of a picture book for young children and would be perfect for Early Years settings and for families too. I have grown fond of Lulu and her lovely family and can wholeheartedly recommend Lulu’s Sleepover.
I should like to thank Alanna Max Publishers for providing my review copy. Lulu’s Sleepover is published on 6th September and is available to purchase online or at your local independent bookshop which can be found on this map. If this appeals you may also like to try Zeki Loves Mummy from the same publisher.