"Louella Mae, she's run away! Look in the cornfields! Look in the hay! Where, oh where, is Louella Mae?"
So begins this frantic search around the farm and through neighboring fields, forests, and valleys. The whole family is searching for the elusive Louella Mae.
Part of the fun is in the language. First of all, it is told in "rollicking verse" as one reviewer put it. (side note: have you ever noticed how anytime a book rhymes it is described as "rollicking verse"?" This adds to the pace of the character's actions...you feel pulled into the search.
Another fun thing the author did to create suspense is to leave off the final word in each sentence of one page and then have the rest of it on the next page. (you see it only after turning the page.)
For example, "Set down your washboards, your needles, and yarn! And see if she's hiding out there in the..." (turn the page, can you guess?) "...barn." Juliet had fun guessing where Louella Mae might be.
Lastly, the thing I find most charming about this book is the way the author used some good old regional dialect to make the characters come alive. While this is popular in most fiction, I hardly EVER see it in picture books. In fact, I would have to say I have NEVER seen it. Until now.
Phrases like "Go look over there 'fore she gets swallered up by a big ol' black bear" just make me smile. I'm not sure juliet noticed it at all, but I sure did.
At some point in the middle of the book, I began to wonder if this book was a little too scary for a 2 year old. The thought of Louella being "swallered" by a bear, getting stuck in a ditch, or maybe in the muck under a bridge seemed a bit too vivid.
But I kept reading. At the end of the book, we learn that Louella Mae has finally been found--we turned the page, and discovered to our surprise, that Louella Mae is not a little girl--as I had thought--but a pig! And a mama pig at that.
She's just given birth to piglets in the bathtub. Juliet LOVED this discovery. I think your child will too.
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