Title: Loud Lula
Author: Katy S. Duffield
Illustrator: Mike Boldt
Target Audience: 4-10
Lula was born smack-dab in the middle of one of the biggest twisters Pryor County had ever seen. Winds howled. Trees snapped. It was bust—your—eardrums loud. But…it wasn’t as loud as Lula.
Lula might be a pint-sized gal, but she’s got a big ol’ voice! Since her birth, Lula’s loud voice has wreaked tens kinds of havoc across Pryor County, disrupting humans and animals alike. Lula’s parents are worried:
What’s going to happen when Lula starts school?
Will Lula ever learn to use her “inside voice”?
But when Lula spots something sinister making it’s way toward town, it seems that she may have found just the right use for that big ol’ voice after all.
Ok. True confession. I completely related to Lula. When I was a child, I was always being told to speak softer. To me, I sounded normal. Unfortunately, I have not outgrown my bellowing voice or lively laugh. In comes in handy as a teacher. My students can always find me. No one ever tells me to speak up, and I don’t have anyone fall asleep in class. (Well, except for one student who used to sit in the front row!!!! Talk about being able to sleep through a hurricane!)
As for Loud Lula, I loved it. It reads like a modern day tall tale, with lots of hyperbole. For instance, she calls her kitty home for supper and “every cat all the way from Crowley’s Corner came a-callin’." When she asks, “Where’s the bathroom?” The schoolhouse shakes “like a big ol’ bowl of boysenberry jelly.”
Duffield incorporates similes. She describes the storm as “like nothing more than a chicken feather hitting the hen house floor.” Everyone else is exhausted, but Lula is “spry as a spring chicken.”
The illustrations are full of drama! The schoolhouse shaking, kids fainting, and Lula dancing on her desk! The characters are animated—joyful, exhausted, content, surprised, excited, annoyed, and relieved. There are many opportunities to discuss emotions.
At the end of the narrative, Lula uses her loud voice to warn others of danger and save the day: “The way some folks tell it, those firefighters didn’t even have to pull out their hoses. Lula’s rip-roaring holler ran that wildfire back across the hills!” Lula is a hero and spotlighted in the local paper. She is finally appreciated (well, sort of) for who she is—joyful, enthusiastic, caring, and loud.
Loud Lula is a reminder that we need to appreciate and to celebrate all people, even when their gifts and personality may be different than the norm. This book is a riot, especially for the loud one in the class/family or for kids who enjoy a good boisterous read.
Ideas for Lesson Plans and Extension Activities:
- Language Arts: Teach about hyperbole and simile
- Character Education: Discuss talents, gifts, and special qualities
- Science: Research tornados and wild fires
- Writing: Write a newspaper article about a local or school hero
- Field Trip: Visit a fire station
- Social Studies: Learn about feelings and emotions
Visit Susanna Hill's blog for other Perfect Picturebooks.