“A charming Parisian tale of friendship and facing fears.”
In this story of overcoming fears and friendship, Hugo is a good-natured, yellow bird living in Paris. He prefers to live life on the ground, and he certainly knows how to make the most of it: eating popcorn, playing in drinking fountains, and watching ballet performances. When his new friend Lulu tires of these terrestrial activities, she discovers the true reason for Hugo’s earthbound life—he doesn’t know how to fly. Dominguez brings a delightful illustration style to the tale with ink, water colors, and paper texturing. Lulu’s style is disappointingly generic when compared to Hugo’s pizzazz. While he wears a classy plaid scarf and sports a stylish pencil moustache, Lulu has standard issue pink feathers with pink bows and long eyelashes. The Parisian setting is depicted with transportive detail in the architecture of buildings and the style and activities of characters that will delight and inspire readers who dream of a trip to Paris. The full page spread providing a literal bird’s eye view of the city of lights as Hugo soars along with Lulu is superb, particularly thanks to Dominguez’s insightful decision to leave the page wordless so readers, like Hugo, pause to take in the view. Easter eggs await in the endpapers and emphasize the attention to detail in the story.
Hugo is a dapper little bird who adores the Eiffel Tower—or at least his view of it from down here. Hugo, you see, has never left the ground. So when he meets another bird, the determined Lulu, who invites him to fly with her to the top of the tower, Hugo stalls, persuading Lulu to see, on foot, every inch of the park in which he lives instead. Will a nighttime flying lesson from Bernard the Owl, some sweet and sensible encouragement from Lulu, and some extra pluck from Hugo himself finally give this bird the courage he needs to spread his wings and fly?
Lulu recognizes the structure Hugo is building. She suggests they fly together to go see it, but Hugo makes excuses for why he can’t join her. Why is Hugo making excuses?
Let’s Go Hugo! is set in Paris. The illustrations of the story depict fun aspects of life in Paris, including activities, buildings, and food. What would you like to do, see, or eat if you visited Hugo’s city?
Angela Dominguez was born in Mexico City, grew up in the great state of Texas, and now resides on the East Coast. She is the author and illustrator of several books for children including the Pura Belpré Illustration Honor books Maria Had a Little Llama and Mango, Abuela, and Me. When Angela is not in her studio, she teaches at the Academy of Art University. She also enjoys presenting at different schools and libraries to all sorts of ages. Angela is a proud member of SCBWI, PEN America, and represented by Wernick &amp;amp; Pratt Literary Agency. As a child, she loved reading books and making a mess creating pictures. She’s delighted to still be doing both.
Where did the idea for Let’s Go Hugo! originally come from?
Funnily enough, it all began with a windup chicken toy. My mom sent me one in college for Easter. He became my little mascot. I would windup him up and say “Look at you go, Hugo.” Later in graduate school, I depicted him in an illustration as a yellow bird with a red scarf.
A few years later, I revisited Hugo and did a series of illustrations. I was just trying to revamp my portfolio. My agent, Linda Pratt, was one though who saw that a story was emerging. She encouraged me to write my first picture book.
Writing the actual story was surprisingly easy. I based much of Hugo on where I was personally in my life. Like Hugo, I was content, but I wasn’t taking chances and I was letting fear get in the way. I wanted to take a big leap except mine revolved around writing not flying. Lulu represented for me what a great friend can do. And of course, I had to set it in Paris because Hugo is so debonair.
Dedicated to my mom, family, friends, students, Lily, Jess, Linda, and of course Paris!
“[I]n her first outing as both author and illustrator, [Dominguez] lets this tale about facing one’s fears unfold through wordy, literal insights . . . “
“The book charms from the start, but Dominguez excels with her slow revelation of Hugo’s qualms. When readers first meet Hugo, his on-the-ground life appears to be one of choice, not one forced by fear, so this neatly introduces children to the truth that people find ways to hide their fears . . . “