by Judith Viorst
illustrated by Lane Smith
Simon and Schuster/Atheneum Books, 2010
review copy provided by the publisher
Publishers Weekly didn't like this book too much, but I'd venture to say that they didn't read it aloud to a roomful of living, breathing children! If they didn't read it aloud, they have no idea how infectious Lulu's song is, or how much fun the chatty narrator is.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. The audience at hand (4th graders) was hooked on the first paragraph of chapter one: "There once was a girl named Lulu and she was a pain. She wasn't a pain in the elbow. She wasn't a pain in the knee. She was a pain -- a very big pain -- in the b u t t ." And she is -- Lulu gets whatever she wants by screeching until the lightbulbs break. However, when she wishes for a brontosaurus for a pet, her parents refuse. For 12 days they refuse, until finally Lulu packs her suitcase and goes to get a brontosaurus for herself, singing,
"I'm gonna, I'm gonna, I'm gonna gonna get
brontosaurus for a pet."
Lulu bullies her way through the forest, dispatching a snake, a tiger, and a bear, until she finds her brontosaurus. But lo and behold, Mr. B refuses to be her pet. He wants Lulu for HIS pet! Mr. B is so kind and nice and polite and patient in his refusal to let Lulu go and his insistence that she will be his pet, that Lulu stops screeching and starts asking nicely. She even uses the "P" word. (please)
But has she really changed? You decide -- think about how she runs away from Mr. B at her first opportunity. But think about how she mends her relationship with the snake, the tiger and the bear. And think about each of the three alternative endings -- which one is too sour, which one is too sweet, and which one is just about the way life really works, give or take the part about the brontosaurus?
This is a very fun read aloud. Very fun. To the reader of our blog who recently asked for chapter books to read aloud to Kindergarten -- this one receives my endorsement! And I heartily recommend that it be read aloud to first, second, third, fourth and fifth graders, too!
other reviews: Creative Literacy, Kids Lit, Brimful Curiosities
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