Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Module 1: Koala Lou

Fox, Mem. 1988. Koala Lou. Illustrated by Pamela Lofts. San Diego, CA: Gulliver Books. ISBN 0152005021.

Plot Summary
Koala Lou is loved by everyone, especially her mother who always says, "Koala Lou, I DO love you!" Koala Lou's mother has more children and no longer has time to always tell Koala Lou she loves her. Koala Lou joins the Bush Olympics with the hope of regaining her mother's attention and love. Although Koala Lou does not win the gum tree climbing event she learns that her mother still loves her and always will.

Critical Analysis
Koala Lou takes place in Australia and this is evident by the animals and plants present in the story. The story mainly takes place in and around gum trees, the true homes of koalas. Other animals present in the story are the emu, platypus, and kookaburra, in addition to many others. Many aspects of the story and illustrations are accurate. The koalas look realistic. Even small aspects that might not be noticed are drawn correctly. One of these aspects is the koala's hands having two thumbs and three fingers. The jealousy of Koala Lou is based on a true occurrence of koalas giving birth to a new baby each year. A koala is weened after one year and will stay near its mother for another year, but is mature and able to live on its own after two years of age.

Many aspects of the book are also unrealistic, but fit the plot of the story. The animals are personified and engage in human activities, like the Olympics. In one picture Koala Lou is shown wearing sneakers, doing push-ups, and lifting weights in preparation for the Olympics. Although these portions of the story would never really occur with animals they could with humans. Children will relate to the events in the book, understanding Koala Lou's yearning for her mother's attention and will be happy with the realization that Koala Lou's mother really never stopped loving her.

Review Excerpts
"A first-rate choice for bedtime, story hour, or reading aloud." -The Horn Book, November/December 1989

"Fox brings out the best in her characters, and also conveys an important message about competition without being strident or didactic. Lofts' illustrations are realistic, whimsical, and almost textured; she gives an additional depth to the animal characters by making their faces (especially the eyes) so expressive." -School Library Journal, January 1990

Share other books by Mem Fox:
Hunwick's Egg
Shoes From Grandpa
Boo to a Goose
Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge

Share information about real koalas. Have children complete a koala craft by coloring precut mother and baby koalas and gluing the baby koala onto the mother's back or into her pouch.

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