Book: Lulu Atlantis and the Quest for True Blue Love
Author: Patricia Martin
Age Range: 8-12
Time Spent Reading: 1 hour, 10 minutes
Time Spent Blogging: 20 minutes
Patricia Martin's Lulu Atlantis and the Quest for True Blue Love skews perhaps a bit young for the 48 Hour Book Challenge (my 8th title). But it fit perfectly into the time window that I had before (alas) having to take a break to attend a dinner event. I chose it because I recalled an enthusiastic review from 7-Imp, and because really, who wouldn't choose a book about a girl named Lulu Atlantis?
Lulu Atlantis and the Quest for True Blue Love is a bit of an odd book. It consists of four interconnected stories, each with multiple chapters, told from the fantasy-tinged perspective of young Lulu. In the first story, Lulu rails against the birth of her new younger brother, Sam, and runs away. In the second, still annoyed with the amount of her mother's time that her brother takes up, she tries to make her brother breakfast, so that her mother can make pancakes for her. In the third, she battles monsters under Sam's crib. And in the fourth, she suffers a tragedy, but finally learns the meaning of "true blue love". In none of the stories does Lulu's father appear, as he is apparently off working to save endangered species.
Throughout all of the stories, Lulu's fantasies are portrayed as though real, especially her imaginary best friend Harry, a small, top-hatted spider. Other imaginary characters (one presumes) include the Yogurt Skunk, the Frog Prince, and three gangster bakers. A flesh and blood friend (one presumes) is the Eggman, who brings the family fresh eggs, and listens to Lulu's stories. The presence of the Eggman actually made me wonder whether the expected return of Lulu's father was also a fantasy, but perhaps I've been reading too many other books about orphaned children). I found this book a bit difficult to adapt to (deciding what's real and what isn't), but I suspect that elementary school kids will take that aspect in stride. And once I had adapted to Lulu's perspective, I quite enjoyed it, and was moved by the drama at the end.
Patricia Martin includes both subtle humor and lyrical description in the book. For instance:
"Monsters do get bored easily. It's their limited intellectual capacity. Monsters are quite dull-witted you know." (Page 108)
"Midnight. That was when things happened. Midnight was when owls hooted and witches flew, when ghosts seeped like smoke through the keyhole in your door, and when your refrigerator gasped and sighed, tired of being cold." (Page 152)
I love the image of the refrigerator being tired of being cold.
Harry's voice is particularly witty. Though I did scratch my head over a scene in which Harry used a word (correctly) that Lulu didn't understand. How can her imaginary friend have a better vocabulary than she does?
All in all, as with the Willoughbys, I think that this is a book that some kids will really enjoy, while others won't appreciate it at all. Try it for kids who have imaginary friends, or fanciful natures. I would put this one, optimally, at about a second or third grade level. And if you're having trouble getting boys interested, try telling them that one of Lulu's friends is a young skunk - that should reel them in.
© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.