Lulu and the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Lane Smith; Atheneum (September 2010); ISBN 9781416999614; 128 pages
Book Source: Copy from public library
For a spoiled girl who has everything and gets her way nearly always, a real brontosaurus for a birthday present does not sound like an unreasonable request. Not at all. Surprisingly her parents say, "No." What's a spoiled girl to do? The obvious! Say, "Foo on you" to her parents and go into the forest alone in search of a brontosaurus for a pet, all the way merrily singing a little made up ditty, "I'm gonna, I'm gonna, I'm gonna, gonna get / A bronto-bronto-bronto Brontosaurus for a pet." Lo and behold, she stumbles upon a brontosaurus (Mr. B) who has his own ideas about pets, namely, that he intends to make Lulu his pet.
This short chapter book lends itself perfectly as a read aloud. I enjoyed reading it immensely and my daughter very much enjoyed listening. In fact, I'd love to read it to a whole classroom of kids. The writing has a spunky, almost conversational flow and the writer interjects her own opinions right into the story, making it fun and interesting. Like this, for instance -
"Is that where a brontosaurus would live? In a forest? I'm afraid that I'm not absolutely sure. But since I'm the person writing this story, I'm putting this brontosaurus in a forest, along with a lot of other wild beasts that I'm absolutely sure did not live on Earth when dinosaurs were there."Fresh, original and a bit quirky, the whole book is highly amusing -- there is even a half chapter (chapter eight and one half) and three alternate endings. Sometimes the chapters are only a few paragraphs long and we really flew through this book quickly. We love Lulu's character. She likes to eat pickle sandwiches and carries a bottomless suitcase kind of like Mary Poppins' carpetbag. And, even though she starts out as a snotty little girl, she does learn some manners after her encounter with the dinosaur. Lane Smith's pencil illustrations are a great fit for this book and have a really interesting look that show the rough texture of the pastel paper through the drawing.
Lane Smith - Illustrator Website
Children Make Terrible Pets by Peter Brown; Little, Brown and Company (September 2010); ISBN 9780316015486; 40 pages
Book Source: Copy from public library
Wood grained page borders give a decidedly forest like feel to Peter Brown's newest picture book, Children Make Terrible Pets. And for good reason. A sweet, adorable tutu-wearing bear named Lulu discovers a little boy in the forest and decides to take him home and keep him as her pet. Her mother warns her that "children make terrible pets," but Lulu insists she is up to the task of taking care of her squeaky little critter. While the two have a lot of fun together, Lulu discovers that taking care of a little boy is harder than she first thought. "Squeaker" the boy isn't very easy to potty train, gets into a lot of trouble, and Lucy has second thoughts about her choice of pet.
Children Make Terrible Pets is a cute and clever story perfect for toddlers on up. It has eye-pleasing illustrations and a funky design, exactly the sort of thing you'd expect from the talented Peter Brown. I love the dialog bubbles and the text that looks like it's stuck to the page with turquoise sticky notes. My kids thought it was funny that the only thing people said in the book is, "Squeak." As a parent to young children, I can really sympathize with poor Lulu. Trying to take care of a stubborn child certainly is not all fun and games! And children will look at taking care of their own pets in a whole new way after reading this one. Brown's book made it onto the distinguished and recently released New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Books of 2010.
Peter Brown - Author Website
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