Title: hello! hello!
Author: Matthew Cordell
Illustrator: Matthew Cordell
Publisher: Hyperion Books
Audience: Ages 2-6
Summary: Young Lydia is completely surrounded by electronic devices as this story opens. One by one, though, her hand-held game, computer, telephone, and television fail. Her family members are too busy with their own electronics to even look up as they perfunctorily answer her “Hello’s.” Drawn outside by a colorful leaf, Lydia discovers the beautiful full-color world, and she says “hello” to them all – leaf, flower, bug, horse, buffalo, gorilla, blue whale, tyrannosaurus rex, and on and on. Eventually, Lydia convinces her family to put down their plugged-in devices and join her in the marvelous world.
Literary elements at work in the story: This story consists of seventy-four words, forty-five of which are “Hello.” Cordell’s watercolor and ink illustrations speak volumes, however, and rarely are such exuberance and joy to be found in a children’s book. The setting of the natural world actually serves as a protagonist, transforming Lydia and, in time, her family.
How does the perspective on gender/race/culture/economics/ability make a difference to the story? Lydia has a mother, father, and a younger brother, but the cartoon drawings of these relatives and their electronics appear on stark two-page spreads, showing only the distance between them and Lydia. The abundance of electronics probably points to a middle-class family.
Theological Conversation Partners: Joy in God’s created world and our place in it is the most obvious conversation partner in hello! hello! Genesis 1:20-25 is practically reenacted in front of the reader’s eyes. As Lydia greets leaf, bug, and flower, she grows visibly happier, culminating in the overwhelming joy of “Hello, world!” The even deeper joy of two-way conversation comes when Horse responds by calling Lydia’s name. Here one is reminded of God’s intimate knowledge of each of us. The Lord tells Jeremiah, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart…” (Jeremiah 1:4) We also claim that gift of being a chosen child of God during the sacrament of baptism.
Faith Talk Questions:
- Why do you think that Lydia’s family didn’t talk much to her in the beginning of the book?
- Look at the page where Lydia says “Hello” to her mom. Now look at the page where Lydia says “Hello” to the world. What are some of the differences you see?
- Why do you think that Lydia is so happy when she is with all the flowers and animals?
- How do you feel when you see all the things God has made in the world?
- Horse knew Lydia’s name and said, “Hello, Lydia.” God knows your name, too! Imagine what it might be like to hear God say, “Hello!” to you.
This review was written by Union Presbyterian Seminary graduate Beth Lyon-Suhring.
hello! hello! by Storypath is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.