About the Book:
Title: LULU THE ONE AND ONLY
Author: Lynnette Mawhinney
Illustrator: Jennie Poh
Pub. Date: June 9, 2020
Lulu is a proud and confident biracial young girl but she is confused and sensitive because people keep asking her “What are you?” Written from Lulu’s point of view, she honestly shares some of the questions people ask her which are very hurtful. For example, if she is out with her white dad, people think she is adopted. If Lulu is out with her black mom, they think her mom is her babysitter.
Lulu seeks advice from her older brother Zane who deals with the same annoying question. Zane tells Lulu that he responds to these questions by using his power phrase. The phrase is indeed powerful for it gives Zane the control to define who he is. After Lulu hears Zane’s power phrase “I’m magic made from my parents,” Lulu decides she needs her own power phrase. She thinks about her outside traits as well as her inside traits which includes her talents and characteristics. Armed with her own personal power phrase, she is ready when the question is asked again. Lulu enthusiastically responds with “I’m Lulu Lovington, the One and Only!” Now, Lulu is in charge of defining herself.
While I have read a lot of picture books that discuss identity and self acceptance, Lulu, The One and Only is the first picture book that provides mixed-race children with a tool to help them navigate their emotions and responses when asked inconsiderate questions. Lulu’s story is also a valuable resource for making young children understand what microaggressions are and to discuss how these statements were hurtful to Lulu and Zane. Kids will be immediately drawn to Poh’s warm and lively illustrations which capture not only Lulu’s unique style and cheery disposition but also her confusion and frustration. On the last page, there is an author’s note where Mawhinney shares the inspiration for the story and provides suggestions about talking about race by listening and developing self–love.
This summer, I am reading This Book is Anti-Racist by Tiffany Jewell and participating in an online book club. The first section, Waking Up, is about understanding and growing into our identities. Jewell poses the question “Who Am I?” and reminds readers “the world will try to tell you who you are, but you are the only person who gets to decide that.” Jewell encourages readers to complete an exercise writing down everything they can think of that makes them what they are. Lulu, The Only and Only is a perfect tool for engaging young children in a similar activity about identity. Mawhinney models this process so beautifully when Lulu thinks about who she is. Children could use this list to create their own power phrases. Lulu, The Only and Only is a book that I highly recommend and can’t wait to share with children and teachers.
Get a sneak peek at Lulu The One and Only by watching the book trailer!
Praise for Lulu The One and Only!
★“All children will benefit from this pitch-perfect discussion of race, identity, complexity, and beauty.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred)
Meet the Author:
Lynnette Mawhinney, PhD, is associate professor in the department of curriculum and instruction at the University of Illinois at Chicago helping to prepare future urban teachers for the classroom. She’s written several academic books and articles. LULU THE ONE AND ONLY is her first children’s book. Dr. Mawhinney is biracial, like her character Lulu, and an expert on teaching diverse populations and in urban environments. She lives in Chicago. To learn more, and to download a curriculum guide, visit her website: https://www.lynnettemawhinney.com/for-children.
Enter a Giveaway!
One lucky winner will receive a copy of Lulu The One and Only, courtesy of Magination Press (U.S. addresses). Fill out the Google form below to enter. This giveaway is open from Friday, July 10 through Friday, July 17, 2020 ending at 10:00 p.m. EST. Please note that book may take longer to ship so patience is appreciated.