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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Lulu and the Dog from the Sea, written by Hilary McKay and illustrated by Priscilla Lamont. Albert Whitman and Company, Thomas Allen & Son, 2013. $16.95 ages 4 and up

"There was no sign of him in the sand dunes, nor on the wide windy beach. No dog with paper-bag ears splashed in the pools by the breakwaters, or raced across the golf course (where no dogs were allowed). But as they got nearer to the town end of the beach they heard news. The ice cream and hot dog stand knew him very well."

I was so hoping there would be a second book about Lulu. She is a great character and these books are perfect for young readers wanting to make the transition into some reading that is a bit more sophisticated.

You can't go wrong when you choose a book by Hilary McKay. She is so adept at creating characters to love, and whose lives you want to share. Lulu, her parents, her dog and her cousin Mellie are on vacation at the beach. They have a small house there (not at all what they were expecting with its few  amenities, ill-tempered caretaker and the threat of a dangerous and vicious dog), and a love of being outdoors. It isn't long before Lulu hears tales of that stray dog fending for himself by eating what others put in the garbage.

Lulu's love of animals never wavers. She badly wants to make friends with the stray. No one else seems interested. Mellie wants to practice her kite-building skills, Mom needs a quiet place to read and Dad is keen to run. Lulu in convinced that the stray is one very exceptional canine companion, and she is determined to prove to them all that she is right.

Hilary McKay writes with such honesty and understanding of those who people her books. They live life as it is meant to be lived...sometimes messy, always loving and supportive, and filled with the joy of being together. As Lulu learns the circumstances surrounding the dog's survival, she is even more certain that someone needs to take care of him. It is not until the dog proves how truly courageous and protective he is that others begin to understand Lulu's abiding interest.

How many dogs go home with Lulu when their time at the beach is up?

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