An unexpectedly attractive addition to the standard picture-book travel guide.
Lulu, a young fox, and her penguin companion, Pufferson, one day receive a letter from her aunt Fancy. Sending them tickets for the trip, her aunt encourages the duo to take the ferry to Milwaukee to join Lulu’s cousin Rocky for a three-day sightseeing extravaganza. Staying at the real-life, ritzy Pfister Hotel, the three waste no time seeing the sights. For exercise they rent canoes, ascend a lighthouse, and rent a surrey bike. Food consists of fried cheese curds, a fish fry, and water from the local “bubblers.” The three check out the Milwaukee Art Museum, the lakefront, a statue of Fonzie, and even a brewery (what it brews goes unmentioned, and Lulu, Rocky, and Pufferson do not seem to imbibe). While the book does not aim beyond its stated purpose of introducing kids to Milwaukee’s attractions, the art and writing set it apart from most tourism texts. Graef’s delicate and detailed illustrations are as comfortable replicating a Chihuly as they are portraying a polka band, and the all-animal cast is adorable. The text is a standard litany of place names, but it does take particular care to make the city sound as appealing as possible to small children. Additional fact pages about the city can be found at the end of the book.
While it won’t find much of an audience beyond already interested tourists, this guide to Milwaukee is a cut above its ilk, and it bodes well for the rest of the series. (Picture book. 4-7)