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Author: Hilary McKay

Illustrator: Priscilla Lamont

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Publisher: Albert Whitman and Company, 2013

Material: hard cover

Summary: Lulu and Mellie are more than just cousins. They are inseparable friends. This year, Lulu's dad rented a cottage by the sea. If this was supposed to be a relaxing vacation, it wasn't starting out that way. When Lulu's father turned onto the pot-hole filled road leading up to the cottage, Sam almost got carsick, and pieces of Mellie's kite-building kit were tossed and lost. The cottage owner was less than hospitable. Then, the dog from the sea came out from behind the dunes and stole Sam's dog food. No one had anything nice to say about the dog from the sea, but Lulu is convinced she can tame him. Will she? This is an illustrated chapter book for transitional readers.

Type of Reading: bedtime story, family reading, independent reading, read aloud book, transitional reader, illustrated chapter

Recommended Age: read together: 5 to 9; read yourself: 9 and Up

Interest Level: 5 to 11

Reading Level: 4.7

Young Reader Reaction: Review pending.

Adult Reader Reaction: Lulu and Mellie are fun to be with. Lulu adores animals, and by the end of the first chapter you can predict where this is going. The wholesomeness of it is refreshing, and I liked how Lulu and Mellie asked the townspeople about the dog to learn more. Great initiative. What I didn't like, though, is Lulu climbing out the window at night. She and Mellie are seven! I also thought the cottage owner's character was a little overdone for the minimal role that she played in the story.

Pros: Humor and realism combine in this fun story for animal lovers.

Cons: Mellie and Lulu made some dangerous choices climbing out the window to feed the dog, and then later to fly Mellie's kite. The author missed a great opportunity to help children better understand the impact of these kinds of decisions. She could easily do it without being heavy-handed or overdoing it.

Borrow or Buy: Borrow. Lulu and Mellie are great characters and they have fun adventures. The books are worth reading, but they aren't ones you'd keep in your permanent personal library.


Educational Themes: Even though this is a story for young readers to build their skills, there are other ways to share this book. It would be fun to share before or during a vacation, or you might find ways to make a kite of your own like Mellie did. There are themes of creative problem solving and friendship, as well as opportunities to talk about safety, choices, and consequences.

Notes: The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.

Literary Categories: Fiction - animal characters, easy reader series, multicultural, family

Date(s) Reviewed: January 2014

Other Reviews: See Critics' Reviews and reader feedback at and


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