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Sofie Laguna Biography (1968-) - Sidelights

lily loud school family

Australian actor and writer Sofie Laguna has worked in film, theater, and television. Laguna, a graduate of the Victorian College of the Arts, performed with the Flying Bookworm Theatre Company and the Salamanca Theatre Company, touring schools in Victoria, New South Wales, and Tasmania. She often played the character of Lily, a rambunctious five year old. More recently, Laguna has turned her attention to writing for children. Laguna's strength, as she noted on the Scholastic Australia Web site, "comes from my ability to access that child's voice in myself."

Laguna published her first picture book, My Yellow Blanky, in 2002. She followed that with Bill's Best Day, about a young boy who is embarrassed by his mother and father's odd occupation: cowboy. When an explosion at the school fair startles a group of animals, Bill's parents save the day and Bill comes to see them in a new light. The protagonist of Too Loud Lily, "a galumphing hippo named Lily, seems incapable of being quiet despite the urging of her family and friends," observed a Publishers Weekly reviewer. Lily creates noise even when she is reading or watching television, and she gets in trouble at school when she laughs at a note her friends are secretly passing. When Lily meets Miss Loopiola, the exuberant new music and drama teacher, her fortunes change. To Miss Loopiola, Lily's boisterous personality is perfectly suited for a lead role in the school play, and Lily makes the most of her time on stage. According to Ilene Cooper in Booklist, "the cheery narrative works well, and many children will empathize with loud Lily." Young readers "who also feel that their special character traits are more trouble than they are worth will enjoy" the tale, wrote Linda M. Kenton in School Library Journal.

Surviving Aunt Marsha, a young adult novel published in 2003, concerns a family's ability to weather a visit from a strong-willed relative. When the parents of Bettina, Vince, and Aidan go on a three-week vacation, they ask the children's Aunt Marsha to watch over them. Aunt Marsha has her own way of doing things: the family dog must stay outside, comic books are forbidden, and kidney pie appears on the dinner menu. When Aidan gets upset and retreats into his treehouse, Aunt Marsha climbs after him, despite her fear of heights. Working together, the children and their aunt must find a way to get her down safely.

In Big Ned's Bushwalk a nature lover proves his worth to his family. Big Ned enjoys hiking in the wild, learning about geology and the changes in the weather. Ned's sports-loving family wants him to be more social, so he joins a group hike in the bush. When a huge storm approaches and frightens the other hikers, Ned must come to the rescue.

"Acting and writing are closely related processes for me," Laguna commented in her Scholastic Australia profile, "but I do love the solitary writing life and the freedom in creating stories and characters. The road ahead feels enormously exciting—there's an element of the unknown in writing. Who knows what will come next?"

Biographical and Critical Sources

PERIODICALS

Booklist, February 15, 2004, Ilene Cooper, review of Too Loud Lily, p. 1063.

Kirkus Reviews, December 15, 2003, review of Too Loud Lily, p. 1452.

Publishers Weekly, March 1, 2004, review of Too Loud Lily, p. 68.

School Library Journal, March, 2004, Linda M. Kenton, review of Too Loud Lily, p. 172.

ONLINE

Scholastic Australia Web site, http://www.scholastic.com.au/ (February 1, 2005), "Profile: Sofie Laguna."

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