Ladybug Girl

   Created by husband-and-wife team David Soman and Jacky Davis, Ladybug Girl seems a bit of an obvious choice for our fifth Blueberry Book what with "New York Times Bestseller" written on the cover.  Though like I've said before, I haven't shopped for children's books since the 90's.  It's new to me! 
   The delicate ladybugs scattered on the spine caught my eye the other day.  I leaned one copy off the shelf to get a glimpse of the cover.  A young girl + a ladybug costume + a heroic pose + hound dog sidekick + wildflowers = "Oh, my girls are going to love this one!"  I was right!

The Story

   Lulu awakens in the morning and before she even sits down to breakfast, she slips on her wings, shimmies into her tutu, and straightens her antennae.  Bright-eyed and bushy-winged, she floats into the kitchen and declares, "I'm Ladybug Girl!"  After her older brother dismisses her insight of ladybugs as common knowledge, her mom breaks the news, "Papa and I have to work around the house.  You'll have to figure out your own fun time, okay?" Lulu, deflated and panicked, yelps, "How am I ever going to do that?"  Her mom reassures her by stating, "You can do anything, Lulu.  You're ladybug girl!" 

   Searching for something fun to do, Lulu asks her brother if she can go play baseball with him and his friends.  Again, he brushes her off by grunting, "No, you're too little.  And bugs don't play baseball."  She tries to forget his words as she wanders around the house, with her hound dog Bingo in tow, stopping to measure her avocado plant that never seems to grow and to study the wall of books.  "Lulu can't read yet, but she knows her letters.  She finds lots of L's.  More than 59, she thinks." 

   She decides to throw some air under her courageous and magnificent wings and heads to the most daring of places- her backyard!  It's here Lulu first discovers her inner strengths (and Ladybug Girl displays her secret powers) as she saves an army of ants, is undaunted by a shark, "(builds) the perfect fort, and (balances) across the whole tree without falling- all by herself!"  After proving her bravery and mastery of skills , she proclaims, "Ladybug girl is definitely not little!"

The Storytellers

   The collaboration of husband and wife, Jacky Davis and David Soman, filled a void in the realm of modern girl superheroes.  In contrast to David coming from a family of artists, graduating from Oberlin College, and soon thrusting himself into the realm of children's book illustrations, Jacky worked a myriad of jobs (mostly in the publishing and television arenas) until one fateful morning:

"One day, when Jacky and David were sitting in their living room and blearily having their morning coffee, their two year old daughter Lucy (who had been up for hours) cheerily bounced into the room dressed in her rainboots, a tutu, and ladybug wings; Ladybug Girl was born."

   I admire their ability to point out the extraordinary within the ordinary.  Everything that Ladybug Girl experiences is attainable and relatable to most girls.  What little girl hasn't had a day when they thought to themselves, "Mom and Dad are busy, my brother is being a jerk, and I'm sick and tired of the same old toys.  I guess it's time to get creative and head outside!"?

   I praise Jacky and David for centering the enthusiasm and enjoyment in the book around the outdoors as well.  It is essential for children of this generation to appreciate the joy of exploring and exercising in the open-air!  I also appreciate her parents, though busy, are highlighted as a positive influence- compared to the detached or non-existent parents in others.  And I adore the simplicity of a ladybug. Ladybugs are loved by all and considered good luck in many cultures.  Forget a Wii and all its compenents.  Leave the iPads alone.  All you need is ladybug armor and an army of ants to create your own heroic adventure!  My favorite line in Ladybug Girl is, "Lulu finds lots of L's.  More than 59, she thinks." Her certainty and attention to detail remind me of my daughter. 

   David's innocent and fluttery illustrations are so sincere and inviting.  One might never know that the watercolors and ink found in Ladybug Girl were a new medium for him according to an interview
from Publishers Weekly.  "His prior children’s book illustration had consisted primarily of realistic watercolor or pastel art, though he also illustrated two titles with collages. 'I wanted to illustrate Ladybug Girl more along the lines of books I loved as a child, like The Story of Ferdinand and books by Dr. Seuss and other illustrators who worked in pen-and-ink and watercolors,' he says."   

The Review

   The simplicity and the heroism in this book have catapulted itself to my four-year-old Little Girl's favorite book of all time!  She is constantly flying around the house, arms spread, squealing, "I'mmmmm Ladybug Girl!!"   She giggles when Bingo wags his tail in approval and she reenacts the scene where Ladybug Girl saves the ants by rising up and tossing her own imaginary rock aside!  Even though she cannot read yet, Little Girl has requested it be read to her enough times that she has memorized many parts of the book.  When I pause, she chimes in! 

   Baby Girl is wild for it as well!  Little Girl acts out every character displayed in the end pages both before we start the book and after we finish- which of course means Baby Girl must do the same.  They have a ball trying to get me to guess which one they are imitating!

  Now with Ladybug Girl receiving a most prestigous 5 out of 5 blueberries from my girls, I feel I've been given the go-ahead to buy titles from the rest of the series (all ages 3-6), including the boys supplement, The Amazing Adventures of Bumblebee Boy!

The Classroom

   Be sure to visit the Ladybug Girl book's website to dress up Lulu in costumes, to play an interactive game, to paint rocks, for printables, and for the other titles in the series.  If you would like to have a nature lesson at home, or if your garden is in need of some help, you can order guaranteed live ladybugs here!

   For even more fun, you can download the app here and click here for ladybug facts, crafts, and activities.  To purchase the book visit here or an official Ladybug Girl toy here, and if your daughter is in need of a coordinating ladybug costume, check out these rainboots and costumes here and here.  Lastly, if that's still not enough, you could find a copy of the 1992 film Ladybugs, starring Jonathan Brandis, Rodney Dangerfield, Jackee Harry, and Vinessa Shaw.  ;)

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