Lulu Bell and the Christmas Elf by Belinda Murrell
Ill. by Selina Geddes. Random House, 2014. ISBN 978857982254
(Age: Newly independent readers) Christmas starts in many families with the decorating of the tree, and it's the same in the Bell household. The smell of pine resin mingled with that of the mangoes in a bowl as together they enjoy this family tradition which Rosie completes when she puts the angel at the top. Then it's time to make the costumes for the school's Christmas concert, angels for the little ones and elves for Lulu's class. She's just trying on her costume when her neighbours come in to visit and it's not long before Lulu picks up that something is wrong. Bonnie, the twins' cat, has been missing since the day before.
And so begins another charming story of Lulu Bell helping others against a backdrop of all that is familiar with Australian children. Making and baking, writing letters to Santa (with a twist in the request), worrying about next year's teacher, the excitement of the end-of-year performance, even a beach party on Christmas Eve. And to top it off, instructions for some of the crafts and food featured in the story, including Lulu's elf costume and hat. There is even a downloadable Christmas kit with instructions and activities guaranteed to delight. as well as teachers' resources for the series.
Lulu's fans will be thrilled that she's back with another story, perfect for this time of year and as a present under the tree. For those unfamiliar with Lulu, it's a lovely introduction to a series about a family that includes eight-year-old Lulu, her six-year-old sister Rosie, who loves wearing angel wings and sparkly shoes; her three-year-old brother Gus who always wears his superhero suit; her dad, a busy vet and her mum, an artist - not to mention a menagerie of pets. Miss 8 really enjoys this refreshing series of stories about characters she can relate to, particularly Lulu as the strong, sensible level-headed lead.
Belinda Murrell has crafted a series of stories that really appeal to those who are newly-independent readers, ready to venture into the world of "chapter books". Miss 8 is going to be delighted when she opens this on Christmas morning.