Monday, June 3, 2013

REVIEW: Lulu Walks the Dogs

Viorst, J., & Smith, L.  (2012).  Lulu Walks the Dogs.  New York:  Atheneum Books for Young Readers.

144 pages.

Appetizer:  Lulu is back after her adventures with a dinosaur.  This time she wants money for something that not even her eager-to-please parents can provide.  So, she'll have to earn and save the money herself.

As the title reveals--a point the narrator also points out--she decides on dog walking; walking three dogs to be precise.  Things do not exactly run smoothly for strong-willed Lulu, and whether she wants his help or not, the perfect Fleischman is going to insist on helping her.

Lulu Walks the Dogs is an amusing early chapter book with a lot of humorous moments and illustrations (I'm seriously thinking about making a collage of some of Lane Smith's pictures from this series).  There is good use of repetition, varying font sizes, narrator interruptions, and emotions that young readers will relate to.  Having typed that though, I didn't find that this book tickled me as much as Lulu and the Brontosaurus did.  Perhaps it was because the first book was a little more fantastic or because I approached this one knowing what to expect.

There are still a lot of great take-aways from Lulu Walks the Dogs though.  I like how Lulu's goal (the one she's saving all her money for) is so lofty and that she struggles to save her money (a brief mini-lesson on the importance of saving money from a young age, anyone?).  I won't reveal what it is, since this is a secret throughout most of the book.

I also like the way Lulu gradually learns to care for the dogs.  After seeing how Fleischman handles the three "savage" beasts, Lulu's approach to do the same is to buy the cheapest toys/treats possible.  This struck me as being something very true to what an actual new dog walker with Lulu's disposition would do.

The heart of this story is the developing friendship between Lulu and Fleischman.  From what I remember of second and third (and fourth, and fifth, and sixth...) grades, dealing with the frustrations and quirks of a potential friend was a central part of my daily drama.  Reading about Fleischman and Lulu's disagreements and steps to slowly become friends was giving me flashbacks.  Eventually, while both characters try to make compromises and help each other, I like that neither one attempts to change who they are.  After all, Lulu would never want to be boring.

Dinner Conversation:

"Lulu--remember Lulu?--used to always be a big pain, till she met Mr. B, a lovely brontosaurus.  Now she is just a sometimes pain, and not nearly as rude as before.  But unless what she wants is utterly, totally, absolutely, and no-way-Jose impossible, she's still a girl who wants what she wants when she wants it.
So, what is it, exactly, that our Lulu wants?  Right now I'm just saying it costs a lot of money.  Furthermore, he mom and her dad, who give her almost everything she asks for, said to her--with many sighs and sorries--that they couldn't afford to buy it for her and that she would HAVE TO EARN THE MONEY TO GET IT." (p. 3)

"Lulu went home and thought and thought, and then she thought some more, trying to figure out what her jobs should be.  But since the name of this story I'm telling is Lulu Walks the Dogs, you already know, of course, what she decided." (p. 15)

"On Sunday, Lulu met three different dogs at three different houses, all in Lulu's neighborhood.  Her mom went with her to every house, waiting outside on the sidewalk00just as she always did on Halloween--in case the people inside were witches or ogres.  None of them were." (p. 23)

"Jimmy, Johnny, Joseph, Jake.  How much money will I make?  Laurie, Lucy, Lynne, LaVerne.  How much money will I earn?  Money!  Money!  Money!  Money!  Money!" (pp. 32-33)

Tasty Rating:  !!!

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