Lulu The One And Only (Lynnette Mawhinney)

Hello, friends! Our book today is Lulu The One And Only, written by Lynnette Mawhinney and illustrated by Jennie Poh, an affirming tale of identity and pride.

Meet Lulu, short for Luliwa (Arabic for “pearl”). Lulu loves her family, but for some reason, they seem to confuse other people. People often ask Lulu’s brother Zane if his hockey coach is REALLY his father. When Lulu and her mom go to the playground, other parents think that her mother is a nanny. This is because Lulu’s dad is white, and her mother is black. Lulu tries to brush it off, but there is one question that really bothers her: “What are you?” She’s asked it constantly, by classmates and even strangers. Confiding in Zane, her brother encourages her to come up with a “power phrase” – a response to THAT question that implores others to look beyond her skin color and hair type. After thinking it over, Lulu decides that the next time someone asks her “What are you?”, she’ll reply “I’m Lulu Lovington, the one and only!”. After all, like an oyster holds a pearl within, the real treasure is what’s on the inside.

Phenomenal. This upbeat and empowering tale is a loving gift to children of biracial and multiracial backgrounds. Lulu’s struggles with ignorant comments about her heritage, especially THAT question, are presented refreshingly honest way (adult readers will cringe during a scene in which a white woman asks Lulu’s mother “What do you charge?”). Because children and parents in nontraditional and ethnically diverse families hear these micro-aggressions so often, this candidness is critical; eye-opening for those who might make such thoughtless comments and validating for young readers who hear them. Lulu and Zane’s strategy for dealing with these uncomfortable queries is inspired, and encourages little ones to develop their own power phrases for similar situations. The art is light and friendly, and emphasizes both Lulu uniqueness and her family’s strong bond. The length is great and JJ loved it. A fantastic tool for and loving tribute to mixed-race families, and we loved it. Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by a representative of the author in exchange for an honest review.)