Book Review - Lulu and The Brontosaurus

Author: Judith Viorst
Illustrator: Lane Smith
Publisher: Atheneum (September 14, 2010)
Reading Level: Ages 6 to 9 years
Source: Personal Copy

Description from Google Books:
It's Lulu's birthday and she's decided she'd like a pet brontosaurus as a present. When Lulu's parents tell her that's not possible, Lulu gets very upset. She does not like it when things don't go her way. So she takes matters into her own hands and storms off into the forest to find herself a new pet, all the way singing:
"I'm gonna, I'm gonna, I'm gonna, gonna, get
a bronto-bronto-bronto-bronto-saurus for a pet! "
In the forest Lulu encounters a number of animals; a snake, a tiger, a bear, all of whom don't particularly impress her. And then she finds him...a beautiful, long-necked, gentle, graceful brontosaurus. And he completely agrees with Lulu that having a pet would be a wonderful thing, indeed! Lulu thinks she's gotten her birthday wish at last. Until she realizes that Mr. Brontosaurus thinks that she would make an ideal pet for him!
How will Lulu ever get out of this sticky situation without throwing a fit (Mr. B does not respond well to those), or using force (Mr. B is much to tall to bonk on the head with her suitcase), or smushing her pickle sandwich?

Judith Viorst, well known for her book Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day (among others), teams up with illustrator Lane Smith (most known for his collaborations with David Scieszka) in creating this early/first chapter book that children will love.  Viorst has an interesting way of interjecting herself into the story right from the beginning.  She acknowledges that dinosaurs and people didn't live at the same time, but since this is her book she is going to do what she want.  And she has created a very vivid character in Lulu.  Viorst also shares with the reader that Lulu is a pain, but not a pain in the elbow or the knee but a very big pain in the butt.  It is with this information that the reader begins to get to know Lulu and the story.

So what happens to a stubborn, bratty little girl who wants a brontosaurus for her birthday?  This is where the fun begins.  Lulu goes on a hunt for a brontosaurus and she discovers something more than she expected.  The brontosaurus is a perfect match for our small friend and as a result Lulu has a lot to learn.  However, the story just doesn't end as readers might come to expect.  Actually, Viorst provides three ends for her story.  Readers can chose the one they most prefer. 

When I heard this book talked at a teacher workshop, I knew I had to have a closer look.  The book is long enough to provide a challenge to early readers who are embarking on chapter books, but short enough that it can be read as a read aloud in one session.  The story provides the basis for a great discussion about Lulu's behavior and also what happens when she encounters the Brontosaurus.  Rather than just reading the three endings, an adult can challenge children to predict their own endings and then compare their predictions with the ones in the book.

This is a fun early chapter book that is very well done and will be engaging to a wide range of children.