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LULU THE ONE AND ONLY by Lynnette Mawhinney Kirkus Star


by Lynnette Mawhinney ; illustrated by Jennie Poh

Pub Date: June 9th, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-4338-3159-1
Publisher: Magination/American Psychological Association

Lulu’s story gives children tools to talk about biracial identity.

This picture book tells the story of Lulu (short for Luliwa), her brother, Zane, and their biracial family. Daddy coaches Zane’s hockey team, and Mama studies space and compares Lulu to her namesake—the black pearls that come from her grandmother’s Kenyan homeland. With one black parent and one white parent, Lulu must navigate frequent questions about her identities. Most upsetting to Lulu is the question “What are you?” Lulu hates it as much as she loves her family. Thankfully, Zane comes to the rescue by suggesting Lulu devise a powerful response to these questions: the “power phrase.” This phrase is a masterful, self-affirming response to other people’s insensitive questions about their identity and family. Armed with her own unique power phrase—“I’m Lulu Lovington, the ONE and only!”—Lulu feels empowered to handle any questions that come her way. Poh’s friendly cartoons depict Lulu with pale brown skin and two energetic afro-puff pigtails. This book does more than simply tell a single story of biracial experience: It talks about navigating everyday racism in sensitive, but frank, ways. This affirmation is just as important as the power phrase. In a concluding note, the author, herself biracial, provides essential, candid guidelines for talking about race, self-love, and identity with mixed-race children.

All children will benefit from this pitch-perfect discussion of race, identity, complexity, and beauty.

(Picture book. 4-11)