Lulu and Mellie, 7-year-old cousins and best friends, share a summer outing with lots of doggy goodness.
The cottage by the sea is not exactly what Lulu’s parents had envisioned—it is rather far from the beach, there are only two cups and two glasses, and the caretaker is grumpy and warns them about a stray, savage dog. The girls, however, are delighted, especially when Lulu, who loves animals, spots a very unkempt dog. Restaurant folk and the ice-cream-stand people know about the dog, too. Soon readers meet him, and they learn that he was born behind the Golden Lotus restaurant, that his mother and sisters were taken by the dogcatcher, and that he survives by stealing from picnics and garbage cans and by avoiding grown-ups. Lulu has brought Sam, her elderly dog, on vacation, too, but that does not stop her from finding ways of feeding and encouraging the stray “dog from the sea.” When the kite that has been Mellie’s vacation project leads the girls out at dawn and into some difficulty, it is the dog from the sea who overcomes his fear of adults and leads them to the lost and frightened girls. Thus, Lulu’s menagerie grows as the vacation week ends, and two dogs come home.
Whether they live with dogs or not, readers will absorb some truths about family vacations and the true care of animal companions in the company of Lulu and Mellie, who are as utterly charming and as completely age 7 as possible. (Fiction. 7-9)