Friday, December 10, 2010

5. Two Feisty Gals: Lulu & Olivia the Pig

Lulu and the Brontosaurus, written by Judith Viorst, illustrated by Lane Smith, Atheneum Books, $15.99, ages 4-10, 128 pages. A little smarty named Lulu finally asks her parents for something they won't give her, then storms off to get it for herself in this wry book about the follies of being high and mighty. Up until now, Lulu has gotten whatever she's wanted (tons of toys and cartoon-viewing time). Even on those rare occasions when Mom and Dad have said no, she's worn them down with her screeching. (After a good lung blast, then flopping onto the floor and flailing around her limbs, one or the other parent always caved in, saying, "Well, just this once.") But this time, Lulu's request, an enormous dinosaur for her b-day gift, is going nowhere. Fighting mad, she says, "Foo on you," to her parents and runs off to the forest to track one down for herself. Along the way, she sings a brontosaurus song at the top of her lungs and startles awake three creatures who are now so grumpy they try to do her in. But being such a pain, Lulu knows how to hurt them worse.

When a snake wraps itself around her, she squeezes him "deader." When a tiger pounces, she whacks him with her polka-dot suitcase. And when a bear bares its teeth, she stomps on his paw until his toenails break off. Finally, after trudging into the deepest part of the forest, Lulu pulls out a sleeping bag from her suitcase and sings herself to sleep.The next morning, Lulu wakes to find the brontosaurus she's wants so badly, looming over her like a mountain. But who's really found whom? And will she ever regret saying, "Foo on you," to her mom and dad? Lane's pictures of the ferociously pouty Lulu share equal billing with Viorst's deliciously wry text, and tickle you at every turn. Like a well-timed comedy act, Viorst sets up the scene with short, pithy chapters and Lane follows with hilarious pictures of Lulu acting hoity-toity or wrestling down a wild animal. My favorite: the opening picture of Lulu, glaring at readers with her arms crossed and face pinched into a frown.

Olivia Goes to Venice, written & illustrated by Ian Falconer, Atheneum, $17.99, ages 3-7, 48 pages. What happens when a precocious pig helps herself to a piece of one of Venice's most recognizable towers? Well, if you're Olivia, you never really know because you're too busy wondering if the city will remember you after you leave. In this delightful sixth book in the Olivia series, our favorite porcine hero rattles the bell tower of St. Mark's Basilica for only the second time in 1,000 years after a gelato-fueled romp through the streets of Venice. While on a family vacation in the legendary city that sits in the Venetian Lagoon, Olivia works herself into a dither over everything she sees, blurting out hyperboles whenever the family stops to take in a view, then feigning exhaustion to get her mom and dad to stop for gelato. After criss-crossing bridges that serpentine over canals, she panics that her blood sugar is low, and afterward from a big bridge overlooking the Grand Canal, she decides her family just has to move there. In fact, Olivia's so carried away by the idea, she needs three gelatos just to continue on. As you might expect, Venice is overwhelmed by Olivia as well. The pigeons in San Marco square swarm her rather than gently pick corn from her hands and a gondolier silently grouses about having more gelato-engorged tourists weighing down his boat. Finally, it's time to pick out a souvenir. Will she pick a gondola, a grand chandelier or a fine French perfume? (Nah, someday she'll have her own line, eau du perfum Fussy.) Perhaps there's something a bit more ancient she can lug home? With Falconer's signature dead-pan humor, Olivia once again has us hanging on her every word and whim.

No comments:

Post a Comment