This week’s feature is a title that I discovered many years before having my own baby bookworms, and I remember longing for the day I could read it to my one-day children. The experience is as sweet in reality as it was in my dreams. I just adore the message: “Koala Lou, I DO love you. I always have, and I always will.”
Each Thursday I’ll be featuring a book that my parents *could* have read to me as a child (spoiler alert: I’m no spring chicken), so we will go with a publication date of 1989 or earlier; all books must still be in print as of my writing.
Title/author: Koala Lou by Mem Fox
Copyright date: 1988
Plot in a Sentence (or two): Koala Lou’s mother has grown too busy caring for her brood of joeys to regularly say the words she longs to hear, “Koala Lou, I do love you,” although she does, of course love her and Koala Lou surely knows that. One day Koala Lou decides she must do something out of the ordinary to win her mother’s praise, so she competes in the Bush Olympics; after training till she’s sore, she tries her hardest and yet comes in second place.
Why It’s Timeless: Unconditional love will never get old. The message that Koala Lou longs to hear is one every child (and grown up for that matter) needs to hear. Repeatedly.
While You’re Reading: The emotional highs and lows make for a dramatic read aloud. Pacing and expression are key in this one. During the climax when Koala Lou is competing in the gum tree climbing event, pace your reading fast and crescendo your voice to mirror her quick racing pace. When learning she wasn’t fast enough, slow your pace and volume dramatically to emphasize the emotional letdown. Punctuate with a strong staccato: cried. her. heart out. This will make the ending that much sweeter when you read the final words in the same manner, repeating the refrain “Koala Lou, I DO love you! I always have, and I always will.”
Just for Fun: Mem Fox is an Australian author, and her stories involve a fun variety of Australian animals that you don’t see in many picture books. I used to play an animal identification game with my kindergarteners and I always stumped them on the platypus, emu, and kookaburra. Use Koala Lou as an opportunity to explore animals from Australia and then read some additional Mem Fox titles to search for them in her books. (The second page of Koala Lou is a guessing game page in itself!)
A Little MORE Fun: If you’re looking to sharpen your read aloud skills, Mem has a lengthy “lesson” on her website, complete with audio clips. (It’s 16 minutes FULL of suggestions, or you can browse through and pick up a few tips to hone your skills.)
Koala Lou should be readily available at your local library, or at the affiliate link provided.