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PLEASE, LOUISE by Toni Morrison


by Toni Morrison ; Slade Morrison ; illustrated by Shadra Strickland

Pub Date: March 4th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-4169-8338-5
Publisher: Paula Wiseman/Simon & Schuster

A young girl sets out on a solitary walk to a surprise destination.

With rain threatening, a little girl leaves home by herself wearing bright yellow boots and a slicker. The streets are filled with fearful sights and sounds—a barking dog, a darkened house, a junkyard and a statue of a bird of prey. But then light and shelter from the storm fill the pages as Louise enters a well-stocked library where “Imagination is an open door. / Step in here and let it soar.” Louise comfortably stretches out on a rainbow-hued floor to read before walking home, passing the now-friendly dog and people sitting on the steps of the house, now shining brightly in the sun. She sits in front of her own house surrounded by books and then goes inside to settle herself in a cozy window seat to read. The Morrisons, mother and son, write in rhyming couplets with the message firmly hammered home: “[B]ooks can teach and please Louise.” Adult readers may find this disconcerting: A child alone on dark and scary streets finds comfort solely from books (even library staff are nowhere to be seen). Strickland’s watercolor-and-gouache paintings are delicate, detailed and beautiful. Louise is a lovely child and a poster girl for reading. Still, that there appear to be no caring adults in her world is troubling.

An ode to reading that raises too many concerns.

(Picture book. 4-7)