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Thursday, March 27, 2014

Lulu and the Rabbit Next Door, written by Hilary McKay. Albert Whitman & Company, Thomas Allen & Son. 2014. $15.99 ages 5 and up

"Arthur opened the door of George's hutch and delivered the parcel. All at once George became very awake. He hopped round his parcel, inspecting it from all sides. He sniffed it carefully. He rubbed his chin over the knot in the string. He scrabbled at it with his paws, rolling it over. Arthur wondered if he should help. Then George picked the whole parcel up with his teeth, holding it by the string."

I cheered when I saw that this fourth Lulu book by the brilliant Hilary McKay had been published. The cheering was for her delightful writing, and for my chance to read another book about Lulu and her love of animals; but, the raised voice is particularly for those early years readers who have been waiting to get their happy hands on another book that is written with them in mind. As we search for chapter books that are 'just right' for 6, 7 and 8 year olds, we can't go wrong when suggesting this series. I can't wait to share this latest tale!

Many people in North America are not familiar with Hilary McKay and her wonderful collection of books. She lives in England, and her books are not simultaneously published here. If you have had the pleasure of reading any other books that she has written, you will know why I am always eager to see a new one. She has a gift for creating appealing characters, and Lulu is no exception. She is spirited, outspoken, and crazy for animals of every kind. So far, she has had encounters with a duck, a dog and a cat. It looks like the next animal in her catalogue of 'rescues' is going to be a hedgehog. I will wait patiently.

Lulu has an accomplice in her cousin Mellie. They live on the same street and are quick to notice changes in the neighborhood. So, it is no surprise that they know a lot about Arthur and his family before he knows one thing about them. Arthur lets them know pretty quickly that his rabbit is a gift, and holds no real interest for him. Lulu and Mellie set about changing that right away; and they don't give up. Can they help Arthur learn the many joys of being a pet owner? My money is on their winning ways.

If you are looking for a series of appealing and contemporary stories for readers moving into independence in reading chapter books, Lulu's stories are sure to be a hit for anybody! If this is your first Hilary McKay book, you might want to look for her other popular series...Porridge Hall, Paradise House, Exiles, Pudding Bag School, and the Casson Family chronicles. I promise that you will not be disappointed!

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