by Judith Viorst (Author) Lane Smith (Illustrator)
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Pitch perfect for the beginning chapter-book crowd.
While no one can question Viorst and Smiths street cred, theyve turned in a curiously unaffecting chapter book. Lulu, a Louise Brooks look-alike, was a pain—a very big pain—in the butt. Given to screech till the lightbulbs burst when she doesnt get her way, Lulu quickly wears down parental resistance to her whims. But when Lulu tries to turn a brontosaurus into a birthday pet, she discovers that there may be a creature whos more willful (and far better mannered about it) than she is. Will Lulu spend the rest of her life as the dinosaurs pet? Will this encounter turn her into a kinder, gentler kid? The plot and characters barely seems to matter—or act only as setups for Viorsts irreverent, metafictional nudges. Is that where a brontosaurus would live? In a forest? Im afraid that Im not absolutely sure. But since Im the person writing this story, Im putting this brontosaurus in a forest. Its an approach thats made Smith and Jon Scieszka deservedly famous, but here—despite the fun to be had in seeing Lulu finally meet her match—it feels self-indulgent. Smiths angular pencil illustrations bubble with arch humor, but its not enough to rescue this effort. Ages 610. (Sept.)
Copyright 2010 Publishers Weekly Used with permission.
Gr 1-4--Viorst and Smith introduce a spoiled young lady who wants a brontosaurus for her birthday. With her lightbulb-shattering screeches, Lulu is used to getting her way, but her parents refuse this request. After four days of screaming, she tells her parents, "foo on you," packs a small suitcase, and sets off into the forest. After getting the best of a snake, tiger, and bear, she meets a brontosaurus. He, however, decides that she will be his perfect pet. While this story follows a familiar cautionary-tale story line, Lulu is both determined and surprisingly resourceful (her small suitcase contains pickle sandwiches and an astonishing amount of stuff). Viorst's narrative is appropriately arch: "since I'm the person writing this story, I get to choose what I write." There's plenty of child-friendly humor, and Smith's droll, exaggerated pencil drawings on pastel paper deftly add to the fun. The pinheaded brontosaurus is irresistible and reminiscent of Syd Hoff's beloved dinosaur from the "Danny and the Dinosaur" series (HarperCollins). This inventive, lighthearted fantasy should be a solid hit with young readers looking for a lively first chapter book.--Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CACopyright 2010 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.