Keep your eye on this author — Springstubb can write. All her characters live, breathe, twist your heartstrings, or make you laugh, without seeming to try.
Lulu is nearly 11, an ardent Little Leaguer and Cleveland Indians fan who suspects she isn’t quite what her flamboyant mother wants or expects. After all, her mom is a live wire, a house renovator, and an all-round nonconformist whose tastes run to tofu and Szechuan. Lulu, an introvert, would rather stick to peanut butter and quiet visits with her conventional grandmother.
Tensions mount when Lulu inadvertently becomes a local hero by catching a baby who falls from a third-floor window. Mom is thrilled by Lulu’s celebrity; shy Lulu is appalled. Besides, there are complications. The baby’s mother, Tilda, a strange, inarticulate 6-foot teenager who is a sister baseball freak, is on the lam after stealing from her unloving mother. Lulu hides Tilda and the baby, an irrepressible imp, in her commonsensical grandmother’s house, and a friendship ripens between the two awkward, insecure girls.
Lulu is a wonderfully compulsive read and an unusually affirmative family story, high in energy and low in sugar. The ending’s mother-daughter reconciliation is upbeat yet believable. Springstubb’s pell-mell plot is genuinely surprising and funny, and hhr imagery is fresh, vivid, and abundant, rare assets in the contemporary kids’ novel. A+