Sunday, June 9, 2019

Review - Lulu and Her New Best Friend

Lulu and Her New Best Friend
by JoAnn M. Dickinson
illustrated by Debi Schroth
Date: 2019
Publisher: Dog Ear Publishing
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 38
Format: e-book
Source: NetGalley

Going to the park with her mother leads a young girl to a discovery that will change her life and open her heart. Lulu is playing hide and seek at the park when she encounters a large dog that is wet and cold and without a collar. After feeding her, getting her warm, and letting her spend the night at her house, Lulu goes out to find the dog's owner.

Her search in town leads to a reunion, but will Lulu have the strength to give up her new friend? Or is there another option that is better for all concerned?

Lulu and Her New Best Friend offers a heartwarming story of new friendship and the responsibility of caring for a pet. Richly textured illustrations pair with the rhyming story for read-aloud fun.

(synopsis from Goodreads)

I've come across some pretty weak self-published books over my years reviewing books. With novels, the problems are a little more understandable; after all, the author may be the only person to have read the book before it went to print. But with picture books--especially where there's a separate illustrator--there's really no excuse for a mistake as big as the one that's in this book. Presumably, the illustrator was given a copy of the story so she could illustrate it. How she and the author managed to miss the glaring issue in the text is something I can't quite figure out.

What's the problem? The book switches point of view. Up until about the 2/3 mark, the book was written in the first person. After that, it was all in the third person! How did nobody notice this?!

The writing itself didn't impress me, anyway. I think the book is supposed to rhyme, but it doesn't in a lot of places (even on the first page). The child's voice is also way off. A child as young as Lulu wouldn't feed the dog and say something like, "I promise you will feel renewed." (For that matter, what adult talks to their dog like that?) To make the rhyme scheme work, the text also uses some weird names (Nanette and Mr. Babette show up... to rhyme with "vet" and "pet", and Girt and Mr. Kurt have to rhyme with "shirt").

The illustrations... Yikes. I don't even know where to begin. At first glance, they look all right. But as the book progresses, there are all sorts of problems with perspective. The dog seems to change size, and at times she's unrealistically large. (In some scenes, given the known average size of the things around her, that dog would be around five feet tall... at the shoulder. It appears to be a golden retriever, so that doesn't even make sense!) Yet, in another scene, the dog's having to stand on her hind legs to reach a counter.

I also don't like how the book ends. It gives children the unrealistic expectation that they'll be able to keep whatever stray dog they happen to find. Mr. Kurt did not look like he wanted to give up his dog. He's probably going to go home and die of a broken heart, because the author stole his dog to give to a little girl for plot purposes. The old man is crying, for goodness sake. And now he's lost the one thing in his life that gave his days meaning? (If he's able-bodied enough to make it to the park, he should be able to care for a dog. The "I'm too old" excuse is just insulting. Plenty of seniors have dogs.)

I'm a dog person, and I love a good dog story. Unfortunately, this isn't it. Even if the text were fixed so that the point of view is consistent, I don't think I'd be a fan of this one.

Thank you to NetGalley and Dog Ear Publishing for providing a digital ARC.

Premise: 2/5
Meter: 1/5
Writing: 1/5
Illustrations: 2/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 1/5

Overall: 1.43 out of 5

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