Sweet Magnolia, by Virginia Kroll, is the delightful story of a little girl’s visit with her grandmother, a wildlife rehabilitator, in Louisiana. Throughout the visit, the child learns about Cajun and Creole culture and gains an appreciative understanding of wild animals as she helps to rehabilitate an injured bird. Sweet Magnolia won the KIND (Kids In Nature Defense) Book Award, given by the National Association for Humane and Environmental Education.
Virginia Kroll’s Sweet Magnolia introduces both the wildlife of the Louisiana bayous and the Cajun culture, as six-year-old Denise goes south to visit her grandmother, a wildlife rehabilitator. They explore the bayou, save a baby bird, let it go, and enjoy jambalaya and the zydeco music and dancing at a fais dodo. Denise goes back to her family with a “lagniappe” from her trip. An attractive introduction with the added interest of an African-American family. Laura Jacques’s vignettes and full-page acrylic paintings are almost too detailed, too stuffed with the flora and fauna of the region. But they tell a visual story of family love and of respect for the environment that parallel the text in a convincing way.