Monday, October 8, 2012

REVIEW: Lulu and the Brontosaurus (Read this one aloud to anyone who will listen)

Viorst, J.  (2010).  Lulu and the Brontosaurus.  New York:  Atheneum.

115 pages.

One of my co-workers came a couple of weeks ago and had praised this book.   She'd read it aloud to second graders and had been impressed by Lulu's ability to hold the students' attention with its unlikely birthday wish, spunky protagonist, funny illustrations, short chapters with partial numbers (chapter eight and one half, anyone?), awesome multiple ends (in the style of the movie Clue, one of my childhood favorites).

I've since bought the second book, Lulu Walks the Dog.

Appetizer:  Lulu is spoiled.  She gets everything she wants.  But as her birthday approaches and she demands receiving a real Brontosaurus, it seems her parents will no longer be able to provide Lulu's every desire.

So, Lulu leaves.  She journeys deep into the forest in search of a Brontosaurus.  There she finds dangerous beasts and perhaps even what she desires most.  For better or for worse.

One of my favorite aspects of this book is how present the author/narrator is, discussing the writing process:  "I'm the person writing this story, I get to choose what I write, and I'm writing about a girl and a BRONTOSAURUS" (p. 1).  As with many meta-narrative (or stories that are aware of themselves as being stories), this book could spur young writers to put pen/marker/pencil/crayon to paper.

Lane Smith's illustrations are, as usual, wonderful.  As you can see along the left margin, they add a lot of humor to the story.
Although an early chapter book to read aloud solely for fun with first or second graders, I'd actually consider using Lulu and the Brontosaurus with third or fourth graders and pairing it with some mini-lessons on characterization.

No spoilers here, but Lulu faces a conflict that causes her to grow and change as a character.  She then faces situations similar to before she changes and the reader can see the impact of how she has grown.

Dinner Conversation:

"There once was a girl named Lulu, and she was a pain.  She wasn't a pain in the knee.  She was a pain--a very big pain--in the b u t t." (p. 3)

"Two weeks before Lulu's birthday, she announced to her mom and her dad that she wanted a brontosaurus for her b-day present.  What did she say?  What?  A brontosaurus?  Yes, she wanted a brontosaurus for a pet  At first Lulu's mom and her dad just thought she was making a little joke.  And then they saw--oh, horrors!--that she was serious.  (p. 7)

"On...the day before Lulu's birthday, right after lunch, Lulu said to her mom and her dad, "Okay then, foo on you."  (She had terrible manners.)  "If you aren't going to get me a brontosaurus, I'm going out and getting one for myself." (p. 15)

"I'm gonna, I'm gonna, I'm gonna, gonna get a bronto-bronto-bronto Brontosaurus for a pet.  I'm gonna, gonna get a bronto-bronto-bronto Brontosaurus for a pet." (p. 44)

"She also woke to the sight of something so huge, so enormous, so utterly gigantic that she thought--no, she was sure--that she was still dreaming.  It looked like a mountain, except this mountain had legs, a very long neck, and a very small head.  It was (as I'm sure you've already figured out) the brontosaurus that Lulu had been searched for." (p. 47)

Tasty Rating:  !!!!


  1. Hi, Shel! I need your e-mail address for the 24 Hour Read-a-Thon! You signed up to host a mini-challenge and I'd like to follow up on that! E-mail


  2. My kids love this book! I have to admit that I did too. Great review!



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