• Happy birthday Ruth Stiles Gannett (My Father’s Dragon), Mary Ann Hoberman (You Read to Me, I’ll Read to You; The Seven Silly Eaters), Frederick McKissack (Christmas in the Big House: Christmas in the Quarters), Tim Wynne-Jones (Rex Zero Series, The Maestro) and Ann M. Martin (Baby-Sitters Club series).
  • It’s the birth date of Katherine Lee Bates (1859-1929), America the Beautiful; Edith Hamilton (1867-1963), Mythology, The Roman Way; Mary Roberts Rinehart (1876-1958), Tish; Zerna Sharp (1889-1981), Dick and Jane; and Deborah Howe (1946-1978), Bunnicula series.
  • Happy birthday Chicago, founded in 1833. Read The Coast of Chicago by Stuart Dybek and A Long Way From Chicago by Richard Peck.

During the week of August 11–17 a relatively new cause is celebrated: feeding the pets of the homeless. The philosophy behind the Give a Dog a Bone campaign is that “No pet should go hungry or suffer.”

In a book of the day, Lulu and the Duck in the Park by Hilary McKay, the heroine would agree with that philosophy. Lulu, in fact, concerns herself with all kinds of animals that may not be cared for. She sponsors a polar bear family, provides exercise for a spider found in her home, always takes care of the Class 3 guinea pig, and builds Snail World in her garden. This budding Jane Goodall shares this motto with her mother: “The more, the merrier.” That is, as long as Lulu cleans up after her pets.

In the first crisis in this easy chapter book, ideal for second and third graders, Mrs. Holiday threatens to exchange the class guinea pig for the second grade stick insects after Lulu brings her dog, uninvited, to school. But then real danger threatens when, on an outing in the park, the class witnesses two dogs terrorize and destroy the nests of the local ducks. Only one egg appears to survive. In typical Lulu fashion, our heroine scoops it up and hides it on her body all day in school. Until, suddenly, its occupant begins to emerge.

In this third-person narrative, Lulu and her friend Mellie emerge as engaging characters. The 104-page book has real tension and action and a lot of comic relief. In a multicultural classroom that exists in the illustrations by Priscilla Lamont, but is not commented upon, the different backgrounds of the students seems just another realistic aspect of this slice-of-life saga. Any animal lover will identify with Lulu’s desire to be of service to wayward creatures of all species.

Well-written, age-appropriate material for emerging readers is hard to come by. Fortunately, veteran writer Hilary McKay provides just that in the Lulu series. Large type and copious illustrations add to the appeal of the book for the intended audience. And for all who do not like animal tragedy in books, the duckling and its mother have a happy reunion.

I myself as a child specialized in rescuing and providing food and shelter for turtles. This story is so universal that everyone will find a little bit of Lulu in themselves.

Here’s a page from Lulu and the Duck in the Park:

Lulu and the Duck in the Park


Originally posted August 12, 2013. Updated for .

Tags: Animals, Ducks, School
Instructional materials from TeachingBooks.net for Lulu and the Duck in the Park


  1. Star says:

    I am so excited to see this!! My 6 year old sounds just like Lulu, and this sounds like a perfect bedtime reading book! I am always on the hunt for well-written books for her reading level, and this sounds like it fits the bill (pun intended). :) It’s rainy here today…a perfect day to visit our local bookstore and bring this book home!

  2. Anita says:

    Star: Glad to introduce you to this series.

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