Review: Loula Is Leaving for Africa by Anne Villeneuve

loula is leaving for Africa

Loula Is Leaving for Africa by Anne Villeneuve

Loula has had enough of her mean triplet brothers and decides to run away.  She packs up her cat, tea set and best drawing.  She knows she wants to be far away from her brothers.  She announces to her parents that she is leaving for Africa, but neither of them seem concerned.  The only one who notices that she is running away is Gilbert, the family chauffeur.  Happily, Gilbert also knows just how to get to Africa.  It will involve riding camels, crossing a desert and taking a plane and a boat.  But most importantly, it also takes lots of imagination and one good friend.

Told with wonderful wit, this book starts out like many running away books and then takes a cheery turn.  Villeneuve tells the story with a light hand, allowing her illustrations to show the truth of what is happening while the text remains primarily dialogue.  The result is a book that has depth and creativity but reads quickly and effortlessly.

Villeneuve’s art evokes Madeleine and Babar somehow.  It has a timeless feel, swirls of watercolor.  One of the most effective images is the series of sky pictures as Gilbert and Loula sit along the river as the sun goes down.  The attention to color and the motionless pair next to each other capture those moments in life when all is perfection. 

A winner of a picture book, this is one that belongs in every running-away bag or bedtime stack.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from digital galley received from NetGalley and Kids Can Press.