Lula and the Sea Monster

Peachtree. Aug. 2019. 32p. Tr $16.95. ISBN 9781682631225.
PreS-Gr 2–Upon walking out from her beachfront house, Lula spots and rescues Bean, a tiny sea creature resembling an octopus. After several days of eating Lula’s sandwiches, Bean grows from being finger-sized to gargantuan and the two have become devoted friends. The digitally-colored pencil drawings feature a charming, beachy palette full of blues and corals, but a vague conservationist plot flattens whatever effervescence the illustrations offer. A new seaside highway threatens Lula’s home; after befriending Bean, Lula concludes she must stop the development. The demolition drivers ignore Lula’s protests, but they can’t ignore Bean, who sends off the bulldozers and halts the highway construction. Bean’s static facial expression renders the friendship story mild, and the unfocused environmentalism doesn’t help.
VERDICT Latimer pairs a girl-and-her-monster story with a half-hearted pitch for citizen activism in this middling picture book. A workaday friendly-monster tale best suited for uncritical beach lovers.

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