Review of Lulu and the Dog from the Sea, by Hilary McKay

Lulu and the Dog from the Sea

by Hilary McKay
illustrated by Priscilla Lamont

Albert Whitman & Company, Chicago, 2013. First published in the United Kingdom in 2011. 108 pages.
Starred Review

Hilary McKay is so good at writing about families! In the Lulu books, the family is not as quirky as the Cassons, but they still have enough foibles to feel real and to be fun to join in.

We already knew, from Lulu and the Duck in the Park, that Lulu loves animals. (Though, no, you don’t have to read that book first to enjoy this one.)

The rule about pets in Lulu’s house was: The more the merrier! As long as Lulu cleans up after them!

Lulu had two guinea pigs, four rabbits, one parrot, one hamster, a lot of goldfish, and a rather old dog named Sam.

When Lulu and her family go on vacation to a cottage by the sea, they bring along Lulu’s cousin Mellie, who is seven years old like she is. When they get to the cottage, the owner warns them about the dog from the sea and tells them to put the trash can in the house at night.

All the family make plans for their vacation. Lulu’s father is going to train for a marathon. Her mother is going to read six books. Mellie is going to make a kite perfectly. But when Lulu says she’s going to find the dog from the sea and make friends with him and tame him, everyone quickly tells her why that’s impossible. I like Lulu’s reaction.

Lulu did not argue. She had found that arguing only made people argue back. It was better, she thought, to do exactly as you liked, quietly, with no fuss. Besides, what did her crazy family know about possible and impossible?

As if it were even slightly possible that her father would ever run a marathon!

Or that her mother would read six books in six days ending with War and Peace (which she had been trying to read ever since before Lulu was born).

Or even that Mellie would perfectly finish her kite, which was already spread all over the living room floor with the string in knots and the instructions missing.

“Never mind,” said Mellie. “I never bother with boring instructions anyway.”

“How can you make it without instructions?” wondered Lulu.

“I’ll just copy the picture on the box.”

“It’ll take ages.”

“Not if you help,” said Mellie, looking around to make sure Lulu’s parents were out of the way, and adding, “You help me with my kite and I’ll help you with the dog from the sea.”

Lulu thought about how much she liked Mellie, who never thought anything was impossible.

This is a wonderful warm beginning chapter book.

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Source: This review is based on a library book from Fairfax County Public Library.

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