Lulu and the Duck in the Park by Hilary McKay and illustrated by Priscilla Lamont. Albert Whitman and Company, 2012. 112 pages.
Reading Level: Chapter Books, ages 4-8, 8-10
Maturity Level: 2, 3 (ages 4-8, 8-10)
This is Lulu’s debut, and it is one of the strongest of the Lulu books by Hilary McKay. Lulu, her cousin Mellie, and their classmates are walking through a local park on a field trip with their capable (but not animal-loving) teacher Mrs. Holiday. Suddenly dogs race through the park, scattering ducks and children. Lulu ends up rescuing a fragile duck egg in the midst of the chaos and smuggles it back to school. No pets are allowed in the classroom, but the egg isn’t really an animal yet, right? Back in the classroom, Lulu is attempting to keep the egg a secret when it begins to hatch. Lulu’s animal love combined with Mellie’s absent-mindedness and Mrs. Holiday’s capability make for a delightful story. Friendship and taking responsibility for one’s actions are clear themes in this endearing chapter book.
Information about the Series: The Lulu books form a noteworthy chapter book series: tightly written with just the right ratio of words to pictures. Great characterization, good plot resolution, and solid relationships make these books winners. Lulu is resourceful, childlike, concerned about animals, and struggles with obeying her parents. She is close with her parents and also with her cousin Mellie. The books each feature an animal-related adventure in which Lulu is trying to save an animal with her cousin Mellie’s help. Humor, early-elementary-level adventure, and consequences for Lulu’s actions (both responsible and irresponsible) make these books a perfect fit for young readers transitioning from the easy reader stage to longer chapter books. Illustrations are well done and add to the story. Both boys and girls will enjoy these, but young girls who have a bleeding heart for animal rescue will especially enjoy them.
Overall Value: 4.5 (out of 5)
- Moral/worldview value: 4
- Artistic value: 5