Lala's Words by Gracey Zhang

Hello, Gracey Zhang! Welcome to Watch. Connect. Read.! Congratulations on Lala’s Words. I have read it multiple times. I notice something new with each reading. I am SUPER excited to share it with educators during my 2021 Books I Love presentations. I think it will help facilitate meaningful conversations in libraries and classrooms about kindness, compassion, what inspires us, movement, and magic. 

I’m curious, what planted the seed for Lala’s Words?

Gracey Zhang: Hi John—Thank you so much for the kinds words! Lala’s Words came from my relationship with my own mother. Like many other children of first generation immigrants there was a communication barrier growing up that wasn’t just due to language. Mother-daughter relationships are already complicated, fraught with emotions and hormones (puberty and the ensuing teen years! Oh boy!) But there’s also another dynamic of having parents who grew up in a culture/world so different than yours. It’s been a topic of conversation with my siblings, friends, and peers—our parents couldn’t give us what they didn’t know or have themselves. It’s easy to forget how we say something can affect the way we go through our lives.

One thing I was fortunate enough to have growing up (as the eldest child) was having my mother read to me during bedtime. I wrote Lala’s Words to myself but also to my mother, as something she would’ve read not only for me but for herself as well.

What materials did you use to create the gorgeous art?

Gracey Zhang: I work traditionally with brushes, black speedball ink, and gouache watercolors! If I’m not happy with how a piece is turning out, I’ll scrap the entire thing and start over with a blank page, sometimes frankensteining together different spreads I think are working better.

Please finish the following sentence starters: 

Lala is rambunctious, wild, curious, troublemaker, sweet, and caring.

Yellow is warm sunshine, runny egg yolks, and the pollen from daisies that rub onto your nose and fingers.

Picture books are stories you can read at any age, time, or place.

Mr. Schu, you should have asked me about my dog who is now getting 4x walks a day! How will he be able to go back to a life consisting of only 2 walks a day! Reminds me of that Seinfeld episode where Jerry can no longer fly coach because he’s experienced first class.

Gracey Zhang is a freelance illustrator and animator. She graduated with her BFA in Illustration from the Rhode Island School of Design. Born and raised in Vancouver, Canada, educated in the United States, she is now based in New York riding that train while thinking of warmer climates.

Look for Lala's Words on April 6, 2021. 

Scholastic's Description: 

Lala wants to run, jump, and play, though her mother would prefer her to "Be still and quiet!" Most of all, Lala likes to visit her secret hideaway, where tiny plants sprout in a patch of dirt and concrete. Every day, Lala carries a pot of water to her plants through the heat, but it is her kind words that make them sway and nod.

On the hottest day of summer, Lala's mother orders her to stay inside, out of the sun and the dirt. Lala is worried about her little friends; but through the cool of the night, Lala's plants find their way to her in a magical, spectacular fashion, silently demonstrating the love that is reciprocated from compassion.


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