Released earlier this year, Luci Soars is the newest book by prolific author and illustrator Lulu Delacre. Born in Puerto Rico to Argentine parents, Delacre knew early in her career as an artist that she wanted to illustrate children’s books. This lovely title is appropriate even for toddlers, and is on the short list of book gifts I will give to my nieces and nephews.
As Luci Soars opens, the protagonist is but a newborn baby, cooed over by friends and family. But no one knows then what will become apparent as she grows older: she was born without a shadow. And everyone stares at the girl who casts no shadow.
When Luci runs errands with her mother along the city streets, she tries to stay in her mother’s shadow, never risking the light anywhere she goes. One day at school, however, she takes a chance, and the stares return, along with pointing and laughing and ridicule. Profoundly hurt, Luci wonders why she needs a shadow anyway. And then something shifts inside her, and she begins to float – over her mean classmates, over the city, and straight into her mother’s arms. How she sees herself is what has changed.
The change in Luci’s self-perception is reflected in the move from black and white to full color in the illustrations. The text in the book is rather sparse, making it ideal to read aloud to younger children. It includes some Spanish words as well.
This book can readily lend itself to discussions or programs about bullying (how did Luci feel when the other children pointed and laughed at her lack of shadow?). Those looking for STEAM programming or teaching connections can study the science of light and shadows, including making shadow puppets, for example.
But I think that the most powerful aspect of this book is the idea that we can change how we look at things, and in that way, change how we see ourselves. It is so important to nurture in children the flexibility of mind to see things in a new way, to find new approaches, to see that perceived deficits can be assets when approached differently.