Lulu Walks the Dogs

September 2012. 147p. 978-1-44243-579-7.
Gr 3-5–In this sequel to Lulu and the Brontosaurus (S & S, 2010), the incorrigible Lulu, oft indulged by her parents, is desperate for ways to make money to pay for a mysterious something that they absolutely cannot afford. Rejecting their suggestions to do helpful chores for people as their annoyingly well-behaved neighbor Fleischman does, Lulu settles on dog walking and quickly gathers three customers. But she hasn’t anticipated that walking Brutus, Pookie, and Cordelia together is not the cinch she thought it would be, and she reluctantly accepts help from Fleischman. As these polar opposites devise strategies to bring the canines under control, they also take steps to overcome their mutual animosity, and a sort-of friendship develops. When Lulu’s secret desire is revealed in a Q & A at story’s end, it’s clear they’ll need to work together for a long time to come. The predictable plot takes a backseat to the hilarious narration with much editorial wisecracking and frequent asides directed to readers. The story moves along quickly, variations in page layout and typeface add interest, and Smith’s stylized black-and-white drawings are a big part of the fun. A perfect choice for transitional readers.-Marie Orlando, fomerly at Suffolk Cooperative Library System, Bellport, NY
Lulu still has a world-class case of self-absorption, but her arguing skills have matured a bit since Lulu and the Brontosaurus (rev. 11/10). Since tantrums are "baby stuff," her "sneakier, grown-upper ways of changing [her parents’] minds" now includes wheedling. When this method fails to convince Mom and Dad to pay for -- well, something preposterous that isn’t divulged until the end of the book, Lulu decides to earn money by walking dogs. Her ignorance here is total, but fortunately for her, prissy, way-too-perfect neighbor Fleischman insists on tagging along to provide catastrophe-averting advice. Partnership is eventually achieved, along with a modicum of courtesy and a glimmer of appreciation of their different natures (realistically, friendship remains elusive). This extended comic fable is rife with authorial intrusion: Viorst ensures that readers are having fun, getting the point, and noticing her fictional ploys ("In actual life this almost never could happen. In the stories I write, things like this happen a lot. Deal with it"). Fortunately, these asides really are funny. Smith is in fine form with his pencil illustrations, especially the caricatures of Lola’s three canine charges -- "bigheaded, bad-breathed brute" Brutus, "teeny-tiny white fuzzball" Pookie, and elusive German-comprehending dachshund Cordelia -- and the owners they resemble. joanna rudge long
Self-absorbed Lulu's (Lulu and the Brontosaurus) arguing skills have matured to wheedling. Still, Mom and Dad won't pay for something (that's not divulged until book's end), so Lulu earns money by dog-walking. This extended comic fable is rife with authorial intrusion and funny asides. Smith's pencil illustrations are in fine form, especially the caricatures of canines and their resembling owners.

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