Ponies + Mermaids = Gold… ‘Lulu Bell and the Birthday Unicorn’

LuluBellBirthdayUnicorn.jpgI’ve just read that the Lulu Bell series by Belinda Murrell has sold >200,000 copies.

Just a moment while I put the laptop aside and bow in tremulous awe.

Okay, I’m back. So today I’m reviewing Lulu Bell and the Birthday Unicorn, the first in the Lulu Bell series. The book instantly caught my attention, thanks to the vibrant illustrations by Serena Geddes. And then it kept it, thanks to the clever writing.

Awesome thumbs-up aspects:

  • Cute animals (everywhere)
  • Mermaid costumes (what kid doesn’t want one of those)
  • Humour
  • Diversity
  • Gorgeous illustrations

That’s the short of it. But, of course, I had to look a little deeper into the workings of a very successful book idea.

Want some tips on how a great chapter book works? Read on…

The stats

  • 11 Chapters (pretty standard)
  • 86 pages
  • ~8,500 words (about 100 words/page)

The breakdown

Chapter 1: Setup location and characters, intro birthday cake of awesome. Ends with phone call about pony. Major plot (mystery pony) begins.

Chapter 2: Organise to rescue pony.

Chapter 3: Rescue pony. Action, action, action. Potentially worried kids can stop worrying now because the pony is safe.

Chapter 4: Back at party prep central. Joke about Dad’s fancy dress.

Chapter 5: Lulu and friend dress up as mermaids. Cake disaster. Minor plot (cake crisis) begins.

Chapter 6: Clean up cake. No hope/ crisis/ kind-of-all-is-lost midpoint.

Chapter 7: Lulu saves the day with great cake idea! Yay! Minor plot (cake crisis) resolved. Main Character is the key in this.

Chapter 8: Party time! Happiness!

Chapter 9: Unicorn rides! Happiness!

Chapter 10: Pony’s owners arrive. Girl is same age as Lulu. Major plot (mystery pony) resolved.

Chapter 11: Party dinner. Pony owners invited too. Dad has to wear the funny fancy dress. Close out the joke from Chapter 5.

My thoughts?

This is cleverly-imagined and well-executed writing. It’s simple, in the most positive interpretation of that word. Nothing is there without reason, and everything ties together seamlessly. It appeals to the target market perfectly (primary-aged girls).

Only I’m not sure I want to read it with my daughter. Because, if I do, she’s sure to want all the pets that Lulu has. Every Single One. Except she’s allergic to most of them.

But the mermaid costumes? Those I can do.

So, I guess we’ll read it together after all.

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