Saturday 22 June 2013

Lulu Bell

Lulu Bell - series by Belinda Murrell and Serena Geddes (Random House Australia Children’s)
PB RRP $9.95
Lulu Bell and the Birthday Unicorn
ISBN 9781742758756
Also available as an ebook
ISBN 9781742758763
Lulu Bell and the Fairy Penguin
ISBN 9781742758770
Also available as an ebook
ISBN 9781742758787
Reviewed by Marian McGuinness

What a delightful new series by the creative team of Belinda Murrell and Serena Geddes. Each book has eleven short and snappy chapters filled with illustrations that won’t fail to delight six to eight-year-old girls.

Readers will step straight into these stories. If they’ve ever wished for a pony or a penguin, this is the next best thing, as Lulu’s father (Mr Bell) is a vet. Lulu’s family - artist mother, younger sister Rosie and toddler brother, Gus and their umpteen dogs and cats, live behind the vet hospital. It’s a fabulous setting to create stories from, and a loving and quirky family to have adventures with.

Lulu Bell and the Birthday Unicorn – It’s Rosie’s sixth birthday and Lulu and her best friend, Molly, are decorating Rosie’s mermaid birthday cake. There’s an emergency - a pony is running wild and Lulu and Molly head off with Mr Bell to catch it. As they collect their gear from the surgery there’s the ‘smell of disinfectant and animal fur’ and ‘lots of beautiful animals to talk to,’ like sick fish and orphaned possums in boxes. The imagery Murrell creates uses all the senses as she draws on her own childhood growing up in a vet hospital.

The white pony, with its ‘dainty black hooves, liquid brown eyes and breath like the warm scent of hay’ is captured and taken back to Lulu’s place. After a catastrophe with Rosie’s birthday cake, Lulu comes to the rescue and the mermaid-themed party turns into a unicorn party with the white pony decorated with a golden horn and purple ribbons.

Now, what young girl would not want to be at that party! Such is the magic created by Murrell along with the many wonderful illustrations by Geddes.

Lulu Bell and the Fairy Penguin – Here’s another uplifting story where Lulu and Molly enjoy an after school swim at the nearby beach. They eat ‘sticky, crunchy fruit’ as they dabble their feet in the water. They collect ‘shells, feathers, driftwood, twigs and sea glass’ to decorate their ‘huge fairy house in the sand.’

It’s late afternoon and the time when the fairy penguins return to their rookery under the jetty. But a dog on the loose wants to play and ‘tossed the penguin in the air with its snout.’

Grazed and dazed, the little penguin is rescued by Lulu who calls her father. He gives it antibiotics and the girls release the penguin where it was found. Meanwhile at home, Pickles the cat disappears to have her kittens and is found in the washing machine piled on the dirty clothes. As Dad says, ‘what an action-packed week it’s been … penguin rescue, kittens in the washing machine and a beautiful new mural.’ Oh, that’s another lovely plot line – Lulu’s class has to paint a mural on the town’s newest development site. You guessed it! It had quite a beach theme. Serena Geddes’ drawings throughout  are pure delight.

What’s Lulu up to next? Two more books will be out in August.

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