Do not skip the front pages of this delightful commentary about life on the information highway. Nearly wordless vignettes feature a little girl is in her room surrounded by technology. Subsequent pages show each device failing her in some way, "game over" on a PSP, stuck in download mode on a laptop, no signal on her phone, reruns on the flat screen, then a bemused pose opposite the title page.
There's a bit of foreshadowing on the title page; but I will leave it to you to figure out.
The little girl seeks out various family members but finds each involved with some device or another. No one notices she's around. Indeed, we don't even know her name yet. But a colored leaf floats in through an open door and it is then that the reader might notice that all the illustrations up to this point are done in grayscale. Intrigued, the little girl follows the leaf outside, where the wind is blowing and other leaves float through the air. Hello.
Once the little girl is outside, the font changes to thick, lush lines as she says, "Hello...leaf." She stuffs one into her pocket as a ladybug alights on her finger, "Hello, bug." She picks a flower. She greets the world, which is in full color. As she leaves the world of technology and enters the world of nature, the pages fill with color. It isn't till she greets a horse that we learn from the horse that the little girl's name is Lydia. The horse takes her on a merry ride through nearly wordless pages in which all sorts of animals join the romp.
But, we know this can't last in our hyper-connected world now, don't we?
Hello! Hello! Is a perfect reflection of family dynamics in our technology-laden society. Cordell’s use of color (or lack thereof) and white space effectively conveys distance and disconnectedness within the family, so the social commentary is rather ingenious and spot on. The spread in which color enters Lydia’s world was reminiscent of that famous shift from black and white to Technicolor in The Wizard of Oz. There’s a whole new world for Lydia outside. There’s color and energy and joy. This pleasing story should nudge some parents and children out of doors for a bit. Don’t miss it.
Recommended by Brenda Kahn, Librarian, New Jersey, USA