Lulu and the Dog from the Sea

Bk. 2. illus. by Priscilla Lamont. 112p. (Lulu Series). Albert Whitman. Mar. 2013. Tr $13.99. ISBN 978-0-8075-4820-2. LC 2012013697.
RedReviewStarK-Gr 3—Cousins Lulu and Mellie are best friends. In this modern-day, seaside adventure, the girls are vacationing with Lulu's parents and their beloved old dog, Sam. Having rented a cottage from a persnickety owner, the family hopes for the perfect week full of reading, kite-building, and marathon-training. However, a wayward stray bounds into their lives and turns their plans upside down (along with a few trash cans along the way). McKay hits the nail on the head in this beginning chapter book. Children will delight in the story of how this thieving menace turns into a brave hero and loyal friend, wiggling its way into the hearts of the characters and readers alike. This book is just right for youngsters ready for chapters, with cheerful black-and-white illustrations on almost every other page. Younger children will also enjoy this story as a read-aloud. The plot is universal and the vocabulary hints of a European setting. Family members sticking together to overcome obstacles is the prevalent theme and the happy ending is hoped for, if not expected. This title should be a staple in any early-chapter-book collection.—Amy Shepherd, St. Anne's Episcopal School, Middleton, DE
Animal-lover Lulu and her best friend and cousin, Mellie, go on holiday with Lulu's family to stay at a cottage by the sea. This second appearance of the pair (Lulu and the Duck in the Park, rev. 9/12) allows readers more insight into the two girls and their friendship as well as a chance to know Lulu's distinctive family. The cottage's grumpy caretaker points out a dog running wild who's "not welcome around here." Them's fightin' words for Lulu, and she systematically goes about winning the dog's trust by feeding and petting him, caring for his neglected coat, and praising him. "Often she said ‘Good dog' as she petted, and every time she said it the dog's tail beat with happiness." Clearly Lulu has plans to rescue this dog, knowing full well her parents' rule about pets: "The more the merrier! As long as Lulu cleans up after them!" Mellie's love of crafts and her attempt to make a kite become integral to the story as McKay tightly connects several subplots. Along with the novel's straight chronological order and abundance of natural dialogue, generous pen-and-ink illustrations show setting, characterization, and important action scenes, giving plenty of help for its audience of beginning chapter book readers. betty carter

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