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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

The Thing Lou Couldn't Do, written and illustrated by Ashley Spires. Kids Can Press, 2017. $18.95 ages 4 and up

"Lou tells them that
her arm is sore.
And anyway, the cat
needs a walk.
Also, she read once
that you shouldn't
climb so soon after

There are SO MANY
REASONS not to try."

Lou and her friends are wild with imagination! They imagine themselves all kinds of brave and spunky for the many backyard exploits they dream up. Lou is an active participant. Then, when a nearby tree becomes the ship for a pirate adventure, she wants to take a step back. Lou has never climbed a tree, and she is not in the least bit interested in trying it. Lou is afraid of what might happen.

Her friends are adamant; they want her to be part of this new outing. Lou is equally sure that she does not want any part of it. She starts by making excuses for not being able to join them. All are inventive, and slightly suspect. Even the ingenious ways she imagines for getting her up there without climbing are unreasonable.

With her friends' faith in her ability to do it and their need for a leader to neutralize an imminent attack, she decides to give it a try.

"The pirate captain has faced
some pretty scary things - sea monsters,
hurricanes, even a super-bad brain freeze.
And now, Captain Lou Skullbuckle is going
to do the scariest thing of them all. She's
going to CLIMB THIS TREE!"

Is she, or is Lou right in thinking that tree climbing is not her forte? Maybe another day, but not today.

I know how Lou feels. There were some things, as a child, I was just not willing to try. Tree climbing was one of those. I admit to envying those friends to whom it was no challenge, but it was not my cup of tea. Sometimes being afraid of something is your safest bet for staying safe. Lou did her best, and that is really all anyone can ask.

Ashley Spires' band of daredevils are appealing and expressive. They love to be together and their many escapades show the fun they share. Lou's reserve over trying something that elicits genuine fear make her vulnerable and honest. When it comes to helping her friends, she decides it's worthy of an effort, no matter how hard it is on her. Her facial expressions show the emotions she feels from start to finish.

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