Lulu and the Duck in the Park
written by Hilary McKay; illustrated by Priscilla Lamont
2012 (Albert Whitman)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher
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When we finish our current chapter book for read aloud, I know exactly what we are reading next. It is no coincidence that Lulu and the Duck in the Park has received 4 starred reviews. It is a can't miss chapter book for younger readers. The tone is set with the first sentence: Lulu was famous for animals. Lulu loves animals and helps all kinds and sizes of creatures. She also likes eating apples to the core and jumping off swings at the highest point. Lulu brings critters home, but her mother doesn't mind as long as she cleans up after them. This gives Lulu the opportunity to learn more about the animals whether it is researching with a library book or using Google on the Internet. Her teacher, Mrs. Holiday, would rather not deal with any kind of creature. This is why it is a problem when Lulu's dog Sam follows her to school. Sam creates a ruckus by disturbing the class guinea pig and this upsets Mrs. Holiday so much that she calls an emergency class meeting. She declares that if another animal finds it way into the classroom, it will mean a trading of the Class 3 guinea pig for the Class 2 walking stick insects. Nobody in the class, especially Lulu's cousin Mellie, wants to see this happen. This is why it is such a dilemma when Lulu finds an abandoned unbroken duck egg in the park as the class is returning to school from a swimming lesson. There's no question what Lulu is going to do with the egg, but will she be able to keep it out of Mrs. Holiday's sight?
Lulu has arrived from across the pond in England and she is a delightful character. Transitional readers will enjoy the adventures of Lulu and her cousin Mellie as they get into mischievous situations without trying. I could see these characters in a second or third grade classroom with their love of animals, ability to lose sweaters, and sudden attacks of the giggles. Like other beloved characters, we root for Lulu and Mellie to find a solution and save the day for the duck. I also appreciate how the characters in the book are not one dimensional. They have their triumphs and frustrations. Even Mrs. Holiday takes a surprise turn near the end of the book. As readers, we can easily relate to these characters and connect with their decisions. Now I can't wait to Lulu comes back in the spring with a new adventure involving a seaside vacation.