Ava and her little sister, Arlie, win first prize in a poetry contest at their local pet store, with an unspecified pet as the prize. But instead of a longed-for dog, the pet turns out to be a parakeet—not what Ava had in mind at all.
The girls had planned to name their prize-dog Lucille, so the parakeet is awarded the name instead and welcomed into the family by Arlie and the girls’ mother. Ava resists, glaring at the bird and making snide, often hilarious comments. Gradually the girls come to understand their new pet, and bit by bit, the bird wins them over, leading Ava to proclaim the parakeet as “the real Lucille” in a concluding poem. The parakeet’s minor illness adds drama and solidifies her importance to the family. The story unfolds gracefully with just the right amount of text, incorporating subtle humor, natural dialogue and interesting tidbits of information about parakeets. Softly shaded illustrations convey a nostalgic air, full of cozy details of the pleasant home shared by the mother, her daughters and little Lucille.
A quiet, warm story with real emotions and a real plot. As a pet, Lucille is the real deal. (Picture book. 3-7)