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Lala's Words: A Story of Planting Kindness

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From debut author-illustrator Gracey Zhang comes a timeless and timely picture book that celebrates the unassuming power of kind words. Oh, there goes Lala! She carries a pot of water around the corner, down the block, and over the fence, to a patch of dirt and concrete where tiny weeds sprout. "Hello, hello, friends!" she whispers. Lala waters the plants every day, but it From debut author-illustrator Gracey Zhang comes a timeless and timely picture book that celebrates the unassuming power of kind words. Oh, there goes Lala! She carries a pot of water around the corner, down the block, and over the fence, to a patch of dirt and concrete where tiny weeds sprout. "Hello, hello, friends!" she whispers. Lala waters the plants every day, but it is her kind words that make them sway and nod. Lala's wild nature and quiet compassion enchant in this evergreen story about the power of kind words and the magic of being loved for who you are.


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From debut author-illustrator Gracey Zhang comes a timeless and timely picture book that celebrates the unassuming power of kind words. Oh, there goes Lala! She carries a pot of water around the corner, down the block, and over the fence, to a patch of dirt and concrete where tiny weeds sprout. "Hello, hello, friends!" she whispers. Lala waters the plants every day, but it From debut author-illustrator Gracey Zhang comes a timeless and timely picture book that celebrates the unassuming power of kind words. Oh, there goes Lala! She carries a pot of water around the corner, down the block, and over the fence, to a patch of dirt and concrete where tiny weeds sprout. "Hello, hello, friends!" she whispers. Lala waters the plants every day, but it is her kind words that make them sway and nod. Lala's wild nature and quiet compassion enchant in this evergreen story about the power of kind words and the magic of being loved for who you are.

30 review for Lala's Words: A Story of Planting Kindness

  1. 4 out of 5

    Dave Schaafsma

    Debut picture book by Gracey Zhang about a ball of energy little girl who drives her mother crazy. But there's a quiet place in Lala that connects to plants, which she waters and talks to in her city. And the plants grow and grow, It's a hot summer, but the story turns to magical realism as the plants grow over the buildings and provide shade for them. Mom begins to appreciate what Lala can do with all her energy. I like it that the book is black and white with Lala always in her bright yellow d Debut picture book by Gracey Zhang about a ball of energy little girl who drives her mother crazy. But there's a quiet place in Lala that connects to plants, which she waters and talks to in her city. And the plants grow and grow, It's a hot summer, but the story turns to magical realism as the plants grow over the buildings and provide shade for them. Mom begins to appreciate what Lala can do with all her energy. I like it that the book is black and white with Lala always in her bright yellow dress, and all the green plants.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Jon Nakapalau

    Wonderful book about kindness in action - beautiful art.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Deborah

    Lala is a ball of energy much to the dismay of her mother. While exploring her urban neighborhood, she nurtures plants and expresses her love showing how a little kindness can make greenery grow. I loved how the illustrations were primarily in black and white featuring Lala in a yellow dress with splashes of color.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Lala is an energetic burst of yellow on the page and in the story. The heat of summer has stilled the city and frayed mom’s nerves. Constantly in trouble for her “rough” ways— she is messy and turning a literal flip on that page— she is also in love with the garden around the corner. She spends time there watering the plants and telling the beautiful green plants encouraging words. Then she is grounded and unable to visit the garden. She cries and cries, then whispers her encouragement and greet Lala is an energetic burst of yellow on the page and in the story. The heat of summer has stilled the city and frayed mom’s nerves. Constantly in trouble for her “rough” ways— she is messy and turning a literal flip on that page— she is also in love with the garden around the corner. She spends time there watering the plants and telling the beautiful green plants encouraging words. Then she is grounded and unable to visit the garden. She cries and cries, then whispers her encouragement and greetings from her window. This is when a bit of magic strikes. Her plants have grown into shade producing giants, as they looked for her. At this point, her mother calls her down and tells her how special she is and sets her free to play. I love the limited color palette in the illustrations and how they are used to tell the story.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    This picture book by a promising debut author/illustrator is a 3.5 for me. Using a muted palette of primarily gray shades except for touches of yellow and green that grow over the course of the story, the plot concerns Lala, a young girl with a generous heart. While her mother would have preferred that her daughter be a little more compliant and quiet, Lala loves moving and seems to leave a mess behind her. What she loves best, though, is heading outside to visit her friends--plants growing in a This picture book by a promising debut author/illustrator is a 3.5 for me. Using a muted palette of primarily gray shades except for touches of yellow and green that grow over the course of the story, the plot concerns Lala, a young girl with a generous heart. While her mother would have preferred that her daughter be a little more compliant and quiet, Lala loves moving and seems to leave a mess behind her. What she loves best, though, is heading outside to visit her friends--plants growing in an abandoned lot. She waters the plants every day and speaks words of encouragement to them. Readers will want to linger on some of the pages since the positive messages she delivers contrast vividly with Lala's own mother's negative comments about her daughter. Fed up with her antics and how dirty Lala is after playing outside, her mother forces her to stay inside one day. But Lala's messages of empowerment and positivity still reach those plants, and the neighborhood awakens to a surprise as greenery covers the area. Finally, Lala's mother realizes the error of her ways and the possible impact of her words and she embraces Lala, sending her outdoors with a recognition of how special she is. It's clear that one act of kindness or one kind word can make all the difference i the world, a message that many of us can benefit from hearing. The sunshine yellow pages and the rich greenery that blossoms forth as the result of Lala's tender loving care are visually appealing. I wondered about the quick change in Lala's mother's attitude, though, and how it seems as though the critical comments she directed at her daughter didn't have much effect on Lala. Words can make or break someone.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    I received an ARC courtesy of Orchard Books/Scholastic in exchange for my honest review. Absolutely lovely. I love the message of spreading kindness and the muted color palette was surprisingly engaging for my 3 year old.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Message may be confused with Jack and the Beanstalk, and "meh" art. ARC provided by publisher. Message may be confused with Jack and the Beanstalk, and "meh" art. ARC provided by publisher.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Bange

    Review written of an ARC from the publisher. A promising debut book by Gracey Zhang. Lala is a girl-on-the-go. While she may not be tidy, she is very determined to do all she can to help the plants grow in an empty lot nearby her home. She races to it to water the plants and talk to them. Regardless of what her mother said to her and in a tense tone, she talks to the plants kindly. One hot summer day, her mother loses her patience and restricts Lala to stay home. That night she bids her plants a " Review written of an ARC from the publisher. A promising debut book by Gracey Zhang. Lala is a girl-on-the-go. While she may not be tidy, she is very determined to do all she can to help the plants grow in an empty lot nearby her home. She races to it to water the plants and talk to them. Regardless of what her mother said to her and in a tense tone, she talks to the plants kindly. One hot summer day, her mother loses her patience and restricts Lala to stay home. That night she bids her plants a "good night" from her window. The next day, Lala's plants offer a surprise for the whole neighborhood. Zhang's text is spare and says exactly what she wants - with no frills. Lala is steadfast in her sunshiny disposition; she is kind and spreads her kindness everywhere - which is richly rewarded. Given the vocabulary, this would make an interesting beginning reader. Zhang's illustrations hearken to those of Bernard Waber of Lyle, Lyle Crocodile (HMH, 1973) and The House on East 88th Street (HMH, 1973) fame. The strong black outlines are largely filled with a gray watercolor wash, with plants in shades of green, and Lila in a pop of yellow. The yellow makes it easy to spot Lala in an instant, the sunshiny yellow of happiness everywhere in her world by the end. This title should be included in a unit about kindness. Recommended for PreSchool-grade 2.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Peacegal

    This is a sweetly magical book. Lala loves plants, and she loves best of all to visit the foliage growing in the vacant lot near her apartment. When Lala's mom forbids her from "playing the dirt and weeds" one day, how will her plants manage? This is a sweetly magical book. Lala loves plants, and she loves best of all to visit the foliage growing in the vacant lot near her apartment. When Lala's mom forbids her from "playing the dirt and weeds" one day, how will her plants manage?

  10. 4 out of 5

    Janelle

    Beautiful picture book about how important kind words are.

  11. 5 out of 5

    E

    A good reminder of the power of kind words and letting kids grow into their giftings. I also enjoyed the art. Daily life plodding along in black, gray, and white until kindness and imagination create brilliant color.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mutually Inclusive

    Lala’s Words follows a young girl named Lala, who is a bit messy and boisterous. Lala’s mother wants her to be stiller, quieter, and calmer, but Lala can’t help running around leaving a mess behind her. Her favorite place to be is a vacant concrete lot where weeds grow. While Lala hears discouraging words from her mother, she gives her plants nothing but kind words of encouragement. One day Lala’s mother has had enough, and she keeps Lala indoors all day. Lala worries about her plant friends all Lala’s Words follows a young girl named Lala, who is a bit messy and boisterous. Lala’s mother wants her to be stiller, quieter, and calmer, but Lala can’t help running around leaving a mess behind her. Her favorite place to be is a vacant concrete lot where weeds grow. While Lala hears discouraging words from her mother, she gives her plants nothing but kind words of encouragement. One day Lala’s mother has had enough, and she keeps Lala indoors all day. Lala worries about her plant friends all day, but wakes up in the morning to find that her plants have grown large enough to shade the whole neighborhood, cooling the summer day and showing Lala’s mother the power of positive words. I absolutely adored the illustrations in Lala’s Words. Everything has a muted grey color scheme with vibrant pops of green and yellow that become more and more prominent as the story progresses. It’s such a genius way to provide young readers with a visual contrast between kind words and unkind words. Thank you so much to Scholastic for providing me with a review copy of Lala’s Words. I’m so grateful for the opportunity to share this wonderful book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    Lala's a busy little girl, never staying still. Even in the extreme heat of summer in the city when everyone else moves slow if at all, she hurries to visit her weedy lot where she uses kind words of encouragement with her plant friends. Kind words can cause miracles! Lala's a busy little girl, never staying still. Even in the extreme heat of summer in the city when everyone else moves slow if at all, she hurries to visit her weedy lot where she uses kind words of encouragement with her plant friends. Kind words can cause miracles!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    I received an ARC from Scholastic, Inc. Lala is full of joy and a nurturing spirit. This puts her in opposition to her mother's wish that she stay quiet and keep clean. Lala has found a quiet patch of ground near her home in the city where she takes care of plants. She waters them daily and speaks gently to them. When her mother keeps her home, she continues to whisper out her window. The plants grow tall and search for her. Her mom realizes what Lala has been doing and releases her to play. I lov I received an ARC from Scholastic, Inc. Lala is full of joy and a nurturing spirit. This puts her in opposition to her mother's wish that she stay quiet and keep clean. Lala has found a quiet patch of ground near her home in the city where she takes care of plants. She waters them daily and speaks gently to them. When her mother keeps her home, she continues to whisper out her window. The plants grow tall and search for her. Her mom realizes what Lala has been doing and releases her to play. I love the pop of yellow color that surrounds Lala in each illustration. It contrasts well with the grayed illustrations on each page. Readers will easily see where Lala is and what she is doing. They can compare it to everyone else. I'm not fond of how the mother is portrayed but it serves the author's point in promoting kindness and a nurturing spirit.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    Thank you to Scholastic for the galley in exchange for an honest review. In this picture book, readers meet a wild, energetic girl (Lala) who bounds outside to care for her plant “friends” in her city garden. When Lala's mother is frustrated by the dirt that her excursions collect, Lala is forced to “be still and quiet” indoors. However, she still whispers out her window to her “friends” who “listened” and grew “strong and tall”. This is joyful celebration of childhood energy, resiliency & care f Thank you to Scholastic for the galley in exchange for an honest review. In this picture book, readers meet a wild, energetic girl (Lala) who bounds outside to care for her plant “friends” in her city garden. When Lala's mother is frustrated by the dirt that her excursions collect, Lala is forced to “be still and quiet” indoors. However, she still whispers out her window to her “friends” who “listened” and grew “strong and tall”. This is joyful celebration of childhood energy, resiliency & care for nature. The illustrations reflect the aura of the characters - greyscale city, green plants, and Lala in warm, dynamic yellow.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    This one is pretty good. The colors are beautiful - gray, with accents of yellow and green. The text is well placed on the page. The pacing is good. Lala very much reminds me of my own daughter - playing rough, being dirty, and calling everyone and everything her friend. This is what my daughter's pediatrician labels as 'spirited'. So I can absolutely feel the mother's frustration through the pages, and yet Lala's kind words to the plants is also just as emotive. I felt like the mother's 180-ton This one is pretty good. The colors are beautiful - gray, with accents of yellow and green. The text is well placed on the page. The pacing is good. Lala very much reminds me of my own daughter - playing rough, being dirty, and calling everyone and everything her friend. This is what my daughter's pediatrician labels as 'spirited'. So I can absolutely feel the mother's frustration through the pages, and yet Lala's kind words to the plants is also just as emotive. I felt like the mother's 180-tone-change in this one was a bit jarring. But I can't wait to see what else Gracey Zhang comes out with! The illustrations are just so wonderful. Thank you to Orchard Books for an ARC to review.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Roben

    Lots to love with this one - starting with the illustrations which are amazing. Everything is black and white - except for Lala who is bright yellow and her beloved plants which are green. Lala is like a little sunbeam - spreading a bit of light wherever she goes. I also liked the contrast between Lala's loving words to her plants and her mom's not so loving words to Lala. It takes a bit of a miracle to make mom realize that she is being a bit too harsh on Lala. A good book to read with kids to Lots to love with this one - starting with the illustrations which are amazing. Everything is black and white - except for Lala who is bright yellow and her beloved plants which are green. Lala is like a little sunbeam - spreading a bit of light wherever she goes. I also liked the contrast between Lala's loving words to her plants and her mom's not so loving words to Lala. It takes a bit of a miracle to make mom realize that she is being a bit too harsh on Lala. A good book to read with kids to demonstrate the importance of using kind instead of unkind words; the importance of trying to encourage people (and plants!) instead of being discouraging.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jess

    A cute story that celebrates compassion and kindness. It also showcases that sometimes being different leads to great treasures. Lala spends time in a garden nurturing and talking to her plants that most people see only has mud and weeds. Lala found their value and it comes back ten fold showing the power of putting positivity into the world and not expecting anything in return and having it return when least expected.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Pam

    Beautiful book showing the effect of kind words. Lala tenderly cares for the plants she finds in an abandoned lot. She tells them how special they are, as well as watering them. In contrast, her mother has only sharp words and comments towards Lala because she is always moving, making messes, and getting dirty. In the end, Lala's mother tells her how special she is. I received a free printed ARC. The subtitle is not anywhere on my copy. Beautiful book showing the effect of kind words. Lala tenderly cares for the plants she finds in an abandoned lot. She tells them how special they are, as well as watering them. In contrast, her mother has only sharp words and comments towards Lala because she is always moving, making messes, and getting dirty. In the end, Lala's mother tells her how special she is. I received a free printed ARC. The subtitle is not anywhere on my copy.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    A gentle, allegorical picture book about the power of words, especially the words we use to tell children about themselves--words that can grow or diminish them, so we'd better choose them wisely. The brief text and roughly sketched illustrations are minimal but moving. I caught the author recently in a School Library Journal webinar featuring AAPI picture book creators, and she said she wrote this book for her mother--context that made reading it all the more poignant. A gentle, allegorical picture book about the power of words, especially the words we use to tell children about themselves--words that can grow or diminish them, so we'd better choose them wisely. The brief text and roughly sketched illustrations are minimal but moving. I caught the author recently in a School Library Journal webinar featuring AAPI picture book creators, and she said she wrote this book for her mother--context that made reading it all the more poignant.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Susan Rose

    The perfect book for K-1 to understand the power of affirmations. This book has all the right values, from green to positivity to the value of being yourself. The author/illustrator has made many young friends and devotees through this wonderful book. <3

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kelly Port

    What a beautiful book. I love the emphasis that was placed on Lala and her plants as they were the only figures that had colour, while the rest of the book remained monochromatic. I feel that this enhanced the story and the influence of the love that Lala’s words had on her plants and those spoken to her had on her.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Huninghake

    Lala is an unstoppable force when faced with immovable objects. She loves the patch of weeds she has found and carries water and words of encouragement to her plants each day. When Mama says “no more”, Lala obeys and discovers that her kindness is rewarded in unexpected ways!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Christa

    Thank you Scholastic for the ARC of Lala's Words. This book has such a strong message about the power our words have. Lala is a child that seems misunderstood by her mother but her love for her plants help show her mother how special she is. Thank you Scholastic for the ARC of Lala's Words. This book has such a strong message about the power our words have. Lala is a child that seems misunderstood by her mother but her love for her plants help show her mother how special she is.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Brittany Thurman

    What a sweet story! I love the themes within the book. Words have power, even when it comes to helping plants to grow. This book is charming, enchanting and Lala is a character full of wonder that so many kids will relate to.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Olivia

    See my full review here: https://www.yabookscentral.com/kidsfi... LALA'S WORDS is the story of a young girl who loves spending time with some plants and speaking to them. Her mother scolds her for getting messy and for not being quiet, but Lala loves her plants and spending time with them. After her mother keeps her inside for a day, she wakes up to find that her friends have grown to visit her. Her mother is surprised and finally realizes how special Lala is. What I loved: The illustrations were See my full review here: https://www.yabookscentral.com/kidsfi... LALA'S WORDS is the story of a young girl who loves spending time with some plants and speaking to them. Her mother scolds her for getting messy and for not being quiet, but Lala loves her plants and spending time with them. After her mother keeps her inside for a day, she wakes up to find that her friends have grown to visit her. Her mother is surprised and finally realizes how special Lala is. What I loved: The illustrations were intriguing with lots of details and a careful use of color. They showcased the plants and their growth. The story shows the power of kind words in those that Lala gives to the plants. They are juxtaposed with those of Lala's mother. I appreciated these simple lessons told through this straight-forward story. What left me wanting more: I really did not like the way Lala's mother treated her nor the quick change at the end, that she could only love her daughter or recognize the good in her when something miraculous happens. This does not send a great message to young readers about the way they should be treated or the miracles they must perform to receive love. I think this could have been toned back to still show the important theme of Lala's kind words. Final verdict: Overall, LALA'S WORDS is a picture book that shows the power of kind words. Please note that I received a review copy. All opinions are my own.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Thomasin Propson

    A modern fairytale, which begins so “real” but ends so magically happy, that I feel I’d have to warn children that the wonderful ending here is impossible. That life can’t be like that. So… a story of perseverance (which is good), where the “bad guy” (an overly critical mother) realizes the error of her ways and provides loving words at the end (also good), but only because an amazing thing that can’t happen happens (fun, but only bc of some unnamed magic that is explained away like ‘of course—s A modern fairytale, which begins so “real” but ends so magically happy, that I feel I’d have to warn children that the wonderful ending here is impossible. That life can’t be like that. So… a story of perseverance (which is good), where the “bad guy” (an overly critical mother) realizes the error of her ways and provides loving words at the end (also good), but only because an amazing thing that can’t happen happens (fun, but only bc of some unnamed magic that is explained away like ‘of course—science’), that I think gives false hope to less experienced or naive readers (aka young children). But for ME? Who can say “yeah, I wish,” without trusting it could happen to me? Lovely. Especially enjoyed the bits of color (Lala’s yellow and the plants’ green) that give life to the black and white of everything else.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carmen

    Gracey Zhang explores the magic of kind words in Lala’s Words with beautiful ink art. Thank you to Scholastic Canada for the gifted copy. In Lala’s Words, readers will delight in the charming and rambunctious character of Lala who spends her time in a patch of dirt and concrete where she tends to weeds with kind and beautiful words. The weeds thrive under her care and attention. This is all in contrast to Lala’s mom who wants to rein in her energetic daughter. With time and the most spectacular Gracey Zhang explores the magic of kind words in Lala’s Words with beautiful ink art. Thank you to Scholastic Canada for the gifted copy. In Lala’s Words, readers will delight in the charming and rambunctious character of Lala who spends her time in a patch of dirt and concrete where she tends to weeds with kind and beautiful words. The weeds thrive under her care and attention. This is all in contrast to Lala’s mom who wants to rein in her energetic daughter. With time and the most spectacular results of Lala’s words, her mom is able to recognize how special she is in this charming and magical story.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Ellon

    I thought the muted colors with the yellow for Lala, green for the plants, and black and white for everything else was pretty cool. I think that was my favorite part about the book. The book is advertised as being about her kind words that make all the difference and I guess that's true but it doesn't seem to be the main aspect of the book. The book was mostly about Lala being different from everyone around her (too loud and active) and misunderstood. I wanted to like it more than I actually did I thought the muted colors with the yellow for Lala, green for the plants, and black and white for everything else was pretty cool. I think that was my favorite part about the book. The book is advertised as being about her kind words that make all the difference and I guess that's true but it doesn't seem to be the main aspect of the book. The book was mostly about Lala being different from everyone around her (too loud and active) and misunderstood. I wanted to like it more than I actually did.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca Anne

    Lala is misunderstood by her mother as she spreads kindness in her neighborhood and visits her friends in her garden every day. When her mother tells her she has to stay home for a day, everyone discovers how important Lala is in the community with her kindness.

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