Quill and Quire


« Back to
Book Reviews

Loula Is Leaving for Africa

by Anne Villeneuve

Loula can’t stand her three roughhousing brothers. The final indignity comes when she is waylaid while carrying her tea set, so self-possessed Loula takes action to escape the “mean, terrible, stinky” triplets and punish her distracted parents by going as far away as she can. Packing a suitcase with necessities – including her pink cat – Loula bids everyone goodbye and marches out the door.

Loula Is Leaving for Africa is a story about imagination and the transformation of the everyday into adventure. It is also about the power of positive adult attention. Intercepting the fleeing Loula, the family’s sympathetic chauffeur, Gilbert, points out that Africa is much farther away than the backyard tree where the girl first angrily perches. He proceeds to take her on a long, imaginative journey through the city, walking through “jungle” parks, riding playground “camels,” and embarking on the final leg over water via a paddleboat he dubs “The Queen Elizabeth 2.”

As with author and illustrator Anne Villeneuve’s Governor General’s Literary Award–winning The Red Scarf, the art here is playful and whimsical, calling to mind Ludwig Bemelmans’ Madeline books. The line drawings and spring-hued watercolours have a certain delicacy, but clearly convey mood, energy, and movement. From the amusing portrayal of Loula’s artistic parents to the little girl’s pigtails to Gilbert’s uniform, the book has a sophisticated, retro feel.

The text’s cadence and a few quirky turns of phrase (Loula’s father calls her “my little Brussels Sprout,” highlighting a French influence on the language) make for a delightful read-aloud experience. The story will appeal to any child who knows what it’s like to be put upon or ignored, and charm adults with its wit and air of nostalgia.


Reviewer: Attila Berki

Publisher: Kids Can Press


Price: $18.95

Page Count: 32 pp

Format: Cloth

ISBN: 978-1-55453-941-3

Released: Sept

Issue Date: 2013-7

Categories: Children and YA Fiction, Picture Books

Age Range: 4-7