Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Lulu and the Dog from the sea

Lulu and the Dog from the sea

Hilary McKay
Fiction  Series
For ages 6 to 9
Albert Whitman, 2011   ISBN: 978-0807548202

Lulu, her parents and her cousin Mellie are going to stay in a cottage by the sea. Mellie’s parents will take of Lulu’s many pets while Lulu is away. The only pet that is going on this vacation is Sam, a rather elderly “teddy-bear-shaped dog.” Sam does not really want to leave home but Lulu cannot imagine going anywhere without Sam.

   As they drive up to the cottage, Lulu notices that a strange animal is leaping and running in the dunes, watching the car. The creature is moving so fast that all Lulu really sees is the animal’s “strange, flapping ears.” When they get to the cottage they meet the owner, who is a grumpy lady. She is in rather a temper because of “that dog!” Apparently there is a stray dog that keeps coming around and making a nuisance of himself. The lady tells Lulu and her family that the dog is “not welcome around here!” She has no idea that Lulu is a confirmed animal lover.

   Not surprisingly, Lulu is eager to find out more about the mystery dog, the one the cottage owner calls “the dog from the sea.” When they go out to explore Lulu and Mellie don’t see the dog but they do hear about him. Apparently he and his sisters were born behind the Golden Lotus restaurant, and the puppies’ clever mother taught them how to be first class scroungers. The people in the seaside town got fed up with the dogs and called the dog catchers. The mother dog and her two daughters were caught, but the last wild dog, the dog from the sea, evaded the dog catchers and he has been stealing food and all kinds of other things ever since.

   The dog from the sea is great at surviving, but that does not mean he is happy. He is very lonely and longs to play with the children that he sees on the beach. He often comes to the white cottage to steal from the trash cans and from the kitchen if no one is looking. He never imagines that one of the new people in the cottage, Lulu, is determined to make friends with him, and when Lulu decides to do something for an animal, she always succeeds.

   In this sweetly funny story we get to spend a vacation with a wonderful family. They have all kinds of adventures, including kidnapping rocks and dealing with a troublesome kite, but the biggest adventure of them all has to do with the dog from the sea. Children will understand how the lonely dog feels, and they will be eager to find out what happens to him.