Koala Lou (Guliver Books/Harcourt 1988), written by Mem Fox and illustrated by the late Pamela Lofts, tells the story of baby Koala Lou, “so soft and round that all who saw her loved her.” But her mother loves her the most, telling her hundreds of times a day, “Koala Lou, I DO love you!”
Koala Lou is the oldest, and as the family grows, her mother has less time to tell Koala Lou how much she loves her. Koala Lou, hoping to regain her mother’s notice, decides to win the gum tree climbing event at the Bush Olympics.
Of course, in this heartwarming story, Koala Lou learns that her mother’s love is enduring even when her attentions are divided among her children.
In 2012, I had the honor of meeting Mem Fox. I was excited because I have truly loved her books for a long time. And besides, how many times do you get to meet an author from Australia?
I had a tall stack of picture books to be signed for children on my holiday list, but I also had one very special book, Koala Lou, that I wanted signed for my then 85-year-old mom. You can see why this picture book was the perfect gift for my mom even without knowing she loved Koalas! (Check out fun fact #9 in the link.).
There were a lot of people wanting books signed, and to make sure no one had to wait too long, Mem Fox was only personalizing one book per person. Of course, I knew exactly which book was most important to me. When I told Mem Fox that I had chosen my one personalized book to be for my mom, she offered to personalize all my books if I would wait at the end of the line. It was so worth the wait!
Mem Fox says she wrote this story about sibling rivalry for the oldest child in every family. But I feel like it was written for me too. As the youngest child in my family, I often watched as my mom shuttled my older siblings to and from various activities. I felt a bit left out. I’m guessing most children have moments when they feel left out.
The reality is that any parent can be preoccupied by so many things, and a lot of times they have absolutely no control over them. I think this is even more true in today’s world, making this timeless picture book perfect for every child.
Such a special message for kids (and adults). Real love, like that of a parent, is everlasting, even if you don’t hear “Koala Lou, I DO love you!” as often as you’d like. Koala Lou is also a tender reminder that you can never say “I DO love you!” too much.
After I gave my mom this book, she liked to say “Debbie Lou, I DO love you!” I can still hear her saying it, and it fills my heart with gratitude. Mom, I DO love you!
Another favorite picture book by Mem Fox is Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge (Kane Miller 1989). Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge lives next door to a nursing home. When Wilfred finds that his special friend there is losing her memory, he sets out to find what a memory is. Be sure to have a full box of tissues handy!
In writing this review, I was excited to learn that Mem Fox has a new book out this year! Early One Morning (Beach Lane Books, Feb. 2021) is the story of a little boy who, early one morning, sets out to find something for his breakfast. Can’t wait to see what he finds!