Thursday, May 14, 2015

Book Review: Lulu’s Mysterious Mission….Day 134 of Bond 365

Today is another day where there were no Bond alum or franchise events to report on, so I’m going to review the other children’s book I picked up last weekend at the local retail bookstore.

Before I launch into that review, I wanted to take a moment and mention an opportunity for anyone reading this is also a writer. As Bond aficionados, you may remember that the copyright lapsed on the James Bond novels in Canada, which opened the door for the possibility of spy stories featuring James Bond, unofficially. This opportunity has led a couple of Canadian publishers to take up the torch and encourage writers to honor James Bond. 

The first is ChiZine Publications and they will be publishing Licence Expired: The Unauthorized James Bond and they are still accepting submissions of approximately 5,000 words (see guidelines). The other is April Moon Books and they are planning to publish a series of novellas under the banner Bond Unknown. The twist with this publisher is that they are looking for serious (and Bond worthy) caliber stories where Bond and H.P. Lovecraft’s Cthulhu Mythos co-exist. It’s a fascinating blend of genres and I’m curious what stories will come from it. More details are found here

Lulu’s Mysterious Mission
Judith Viorst and Kevin Cornell (Illustrator)
2014, Atheneum Books for Young Readers

A funny thing happened on the way to trying to find Sir Roger Moore's Bond on Bond book at Barnes & Noble last weekend. While looking at Stuart Gibb’s Spy series (see yesterday’s blog post ), I was instantly drawn to the chic little girl with the Louise Brooks' bob and the trench-coat secret agent in the background meant to be her shadow.

Written by Judith Viorst and illustrated by Kevin Cornell, this is Viorst third Lulu book. The first two Lulu books were illustrated by Lane Smith. Having not read or seen the first two, I cannot compare the illustration style and effectiveness; however I thought Cornell did a wonderful job. I would describe Cornell’s style as a soft Tim Burton style or Beetlejuice
for kids. 

The story. Sheer delight and while there was some repetition - Lulu's chants - on the whole, it was an intelligent, cohesive and engaging story of Lulu who has to come to terms that her parents want to spend some "grown up" on their own, going on a vacation without their darling daughter. Lulu is unhappy with the idea and is further pushed to hate the idea when she meets her stern babysitter, Ms. Sonia Sofia Solinsky. It becomes Lulu's personal mission to break Ms. Solinsky and have her parents on the next flight home. 

Lulu puts each plan into action only to have Ms. Solinsky head her off each time. By the fourth plan, Plan D, Lulu and Ms. Solinsky are at a cross-roads in their babysitter-child relationship, until Ms. Solinsky reveals she is a retired spy. Lulu's whole demeanor shifts regarding her babysitter, who has become her spy instructor, teaching her the essential spy basics. After learning the basics, Lulu faces the MM, or Mysterious Mission, that she finishes just shortly before her parents return at the end of the week. The adventure has solidified the relationship between the two spies and Lulu cannot wait for her parents to take more vacations without her, so Ms. Solinsky will come back and teach her more cool spy stuff.

Viorst keeps her storytelling engaging and fun. She even breaks the "fourth wall" and speaks directly to the reader, which I thought was rather clever and a unique technique that works nicely in this story. The illustrations compliment the story and emphasize the important points of the story. I liked that the protagonist and supporting character, Ms. Solinsky, are female, since the more meaty spy stories for teenagers tend to be more male-centric. I think this is a fun, positive story that children can read over and over again. And for the family that likes spy stories, this is fun start for their daughter(s).

© Copyright. Michele Brittany. 2011 - 2015. All rights reserved. All text, graphics, and photos are protected by US and International Copyright Laws, and may not be copied, reprinted, published, translated, hosted, or otherwise distributed by any means without written permission.

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