Fly High Lola
Niki Daly is a well known children’s picture book author/illustrator. The Children’s Africana Book Award committee has recognized his excellence in several picture books: Jamela’s Dress (1999), What’s Cooking Jamela (2001) and Once Upon a Time (2003)..
Fly High Lolo is Daly’s fourth book about Lolo, a young girl in South Africa who lives with her grandmother and mother in a matriarchal setting. Like the other Lolo titles, this is an easy-to-read novel with black and white illustrations. The chapters highlight a school play, a teen queen, a beach clean-up, and a recycling project. Lolo shows that she is willing to take risks and experiment in the school play, learns the meaning of inside and outside beauty when she meets a teen queen, tames her jealousy by working with mom’s new boyfriend on a beach cleanup, and contributes to the environmental protection of the country.
Each chapter is a lesson about life which requires the young reader to read and reflect. It is multigenerational as well as multicultural. The book illustrates compassion and connections not only with people but with nature. The literacy benefits are evident. Daly helps students make the transition from “reading” pictures to reading words and visualizing the story in their own mind. There’s lots of repetitions, many action verbs, and illustrative reinforcement of meaning. Students can gain much from the four themes and participate in discussion as well as write a reflection or follow-up story.
As an English as a second language teacher, I highly recommend this book on various levels of language, culture, and social interaction. Daly’s South African English may lead to discussions of the various Englishes spoken around the world.
Reviewed by Patricia Kuntz, Ph. D.
Published in Africa Access Review (June 23, 2022)
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