Written by David Soman and Jacky Davis, Illustrated by David Soman
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2009
“Ladybug Girl is ready to play!” says Lulu. She has been waiting forever to go to her favorite playground – the one with the twisty slide and the bouncy dinosaurs.
The plot in a nutshell: A girl and boy struggle to find common ground on the playground
On the way to the playground, Lulu (aka Ladybug Girl) practices her superhero powers, such as leaping over sidewalk cracks, helping neighbors and counting mailboxes (to infinity). At the playground, she tries to play with Sam, but they don’t seem to like playing any of the same games. She invites him to play Ladybug Girl and use his own superpowers. Because he’s dressed in a yellow and black striped shirt, he becomes Bumblebee Boy and he picks up a nearby stick to be his stinger. Together, they save her dog from a scary monster (who looks suspiciously like a squirrel), fly amazingly high (in the swings) and vanquish a robot (tire swing). Other kids come over to join them and together, they form the Bug Squad.
The husband and wife team of David Soman and Jacky Davis were inspired to create the Ladybug Girl series of books after their daughter dressed in a tutu and ladybug wings. (Bumblebee Boy came about when their son saw all the pictures of Ladybug Girl and asked where HE was in the story.) The initial book was a New York Times Bestseller and has spawned a full series, with more than a dozen related books, and an iPhone app. The books are immensely popular with kids and grownups alike, in part because Ladybug Girl is a very positive and totally relatable female role model.
I really enjoyed this book, particularly the artwork, which manages to feel contemporary and nostalgic at the same time. Sometimes the characters are drawn against detailed backgrounds and are sometimes just alone on an otherwise blank page. Even in crowd scenes, Ladybug Girl is the only red on the page, so she always stands out. I am a strong proponent of imagination and love to see the way it’s encouraged here. This is the first of these books that I’ve read (on the recommendation of a friend) and I will definitely be reading others.
And what did we learn? What I take away from this book is that the best toy to share with lots of friends is a good imagination.