Friday, August 23, 2013

Book Review: Lulu and the Cat in the Bag by Hilary McKay (2013)

Lulu might love her animals, but her grandmother, Nan, who is staying with Lulu and her cousin Mellie while their parents take a trip, does not feel the same way. When the girls find a bag on the front porch in which someone has left a marigold-colored cat, Nan is adamant that the cat must not come in the house. But Lulu can never abandon an animal in need, and she is sure that with a little time and persistence, she can convince Nan to love – and maybe even keep – the adorable stray.

The true testament to the quality of these books is that I, who am not an animal lover, keep coming back to them and loving them from beginning to end. I enjoyed watching Lulu's antics with her found duck egg in her classroom at school. I loved her relationship with the dog she found on the beach during vacation. And I am just as pleased by this story about the cat she finds at home, and how she comes to care for it.

It's not just the subject matter that makes this series a success – it is McKay's way of getting inside the mind of her main character and her talent for describing her characters' thoughts and interactions. I love her description of Nan as “”little and snappy and quick and kind” and the way she depicts the cat: “A glow-in-the-dark orange cat with eyes like lime-green sweets. Paws like beanbags. A tail like a fat feather duster.” These simple, yet beautiful, sentences stick with readers and paint clear pictures in their minds. McKay has mastered the important art of writing sentences beginning readers can decode without sacrificing the beauty of the language.

Lulu and the Cat in the Bag is another wonderful installment to the Lulu series that is sure to charm established fans and drum up some new ones. Recommend it to cat lovers, and to any little girl who wants to make a brand-new fictional friend.

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