The eighth book in a planned series, Luca Lashes Visits Mommy in the Hospital is an interactive ebook that follows Luca to the hospital, where his mother is recovering from an unexplained “owie.” The series focuses on “firsts” young people may encounter, including visiting the dentist, learning to swim, and so on.
Told in rhyming couplets, this narrative introduces the hospital, Luca’s mother, and Luca himself. The rhymes, while a bit simplistic and forced (“Luca’s mommy is not feeling well at all/and now she is in a large hospital”), tell the story sufficiently. Unfortunately, the story doesn’t carry much of a plot. Luca is sad and concerned, but it’s clear throughout that his mother is healing and will return home soon. Because of this, it may be inappropriate for children whose parents are in truly precarious situations.
The pencil illustrations are colorful and warm while remaining restrained. The real fun, readers will find, is in touching various parts of the digital page, which react with sound and movement: Readers can turn lights on and off, hear the mother’s heart monitor beeping and the squeak of the balloon tied to her bedrail. For an extra layer of motion, the characters continuously blink while the page remains open.
Navigation between pages is easy, and a “pause” button silences the prerecorded track and auto-advancing pages. This option will probably appeal to most readers, since the narrator reads the text too quickly for youngsters to easily follow. Unfortunately, when the pause button is pressed, readers can’t click on individual words to hear them read aloud.
While young readers will find the ebook entertaining and this particular text may help introduce them to the idea of hospitalization, the message will truly hit home for those whose parents are ill enough to be in a hospital overnight. Overall, this inviting ebook leaves plenty of room for reflection, questioning, and offers a safe place to explore a hospital room.