Viorst, better known within the children's-book world for picture books than novels, flexes her muscles and introduces readers to delightfully obnoxious, fit-throwing Lulu, a spoiled only child prone to indulging in over-the-top temper tantrums to get what she wants. And what she wants now is a brontosaurus for her birthday. Her long-suffering parents finally put their collective feet down and refuse. Lulu's antics do no good this time, so she heads into the woods to find a dinosaur herself. In short chapters interspersed with funny narrative asides and whimsical black-and-white illustrations, readers follow Lulu as she heads into the woods, faces off with some ferocious animals and finally finds the brontosaurus, who decides he'd rather have Lulu as his pet than be hers! Lulu won't survive this adventure without some serious changes in her behavior. Dinosaurs, it turns out, are fond of good manners. The glib narrator provides not one but three endings for readers to choose from. Even so, they still won't have had enough of Lulu. Pitch perfect for the beginning chapter-book crowd. (Fiction. 6-10)Copyright Kirkus 2010 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.
While no one can question Viorst and Smith's street cred, they've turned in a curiously unaffecting chapter book. Lulu, a Louise Brooks look-alike, "was a pain--a very big pain--in the butt." Given to "screech till the lightbulbs burst" when she doesn't get her way, Lulu quickly wears down parental resistance to her whims. But when Lulu tries to turn a brontosaurus into a birthday pet, she discovers that there may be a creature who's more willful (and far better mannered about it) than she is. Will Lulu spend the rest of her life as the dinosaur's pet? Will this encounter turn her into a kinder, gentler kid? The plot and characters barely seems to matter--or act only as setups for Viorst's irreverent, metafictional nudges. "Is that where a brontosaurus would live? In a forest? I'm afraid that I'm not absolutely sure. But since I'm the person writing this story, I'm putting this brontosaurus in a forest." It's an approach that's made Smith and Jon Scieszka deservedly famous, but here--despite the fun to be had in seeing Lulu finally meet her match--it feels self-indulgent. Smith's angular pencil illustrations bubble with arch humor, but it's not enough to rescue this effort. Ages 6-10. (Sept.)[Page ]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.
Gr 1-4--Viorst and Smith introduce a spoiled young lady who wants a brontosaurus for her birthday. With her lightbulb-shattering screeches, Lulu is used to getting her way, but her parents refuse this request. After four days of screaming, she tells her parents, "foo on you," packs a small suitcase, and sets off into the forest. After getting the best of a snake, tiger, and bear, she meets a brontosaurus. He, however, decides that she will be his perfect pet. While this story follows a familiar cautionary-tale story line, Lulu is both determined and surprisingly resourceful (her small suitcase contains pickle sandwiches and an astonishing amount of stuff). Viorst's narrative is appropriately arch: "since I'm the person writing this story, I get to choose what I write." There's plenty of child-friendly humor, and Smith's droll, exaggerated pencil drawings on pastel paper deftly add to the fun. The pinheaded brontosaurus is irresistible and reminiscent of Syd Hoff's beloved dinosaur from the "Danny and the Dinosaur" series (HarperCollins). This inventive, lighthearted fantasy should be a solid hit with young readers looking for a lively first chapter book.--Marilyn Taniguchi, Beverly Hills Public Library, CA[Page 135]. Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.