Fictional film family’s adventures captured in ‘Lulu in Honolulu’


Your parents are lucky to have you around.

They rely on you to do so much: you keep your room clean, you can cook super-easy meals, and you’re very good at keeping your little brother quiet.

You help your parents quite a lot… or, at least you try. But in the new book “Lulu in Honolulu ” by Elisabeth Wolf, Lulu Harrison’s parents really wish they’d left her in Los Angeles!

It was supposed to be the family vacation of a lifetime with a little work on the side: beautiful Fiona Harrison was directing a new film on location in Honolulu, and her handsome husband, Linc, was the lead actor. They brought along 16-year-old, bikini-obsessed Alexis, who’d been a model once; and eleven-year-old Lulu, who had frizzy hair, freckles and a total inability to hula.

That’s not good, when you’re spending the summer in Hawaii.

But it was OK. Lulu, “the world’s most freckled fish out of water,” was perfectly happy to wear SPF-50 clothing, dorky shoes and thick sunscreen while she attended Ohana Day Camp. The Camp was where she met her best friend, Noelani, who was the finest hula dancer Lulu had ever seen but who seriously lacked koa (bravery).

And that was OK, too, because Lulu had enough koa for them both. Take, for instance, when Ohana Day Camp was competing in the hula-off. Lulu knew that her famous family could boost the chances of a team win — if only they would attend the competition. What happened went viral online.

If that was the only thing that happened to Lulu, it still would’ve been an awesome summer — but, of course, it wasn’t. Both her parents were overworked, and the film was over budget, which meant that they didn’t have any free time. Lulu tried to help with a few schemes that seemed like great ideas, but she just made things worse every single time. Then Fiona got fired, and she threatened to send Lulu back to Los Angeles. Alexis was mad, too. Was there any way to get her ohana (family) to forgive her?

I struggled for the better part of an evening to read “Lulu in Honolulu,” and I wasn’t sure why. The story’s basically good; young girls will get a kick out of Lulu’s well-meaning personality and her adventures were fun.

Finally, I realized what I really didn’t like about this book.

First, its formatting makes it seem slow. Wolf presents this tale as though it were a movie script, which means it’s filled with directions and asides that don’t play well. Kids might like the hook for awhile, but I didn’t.

I also greatly disliked Lulu’s too-busy-for-her, rich-and-famous, gorgeous-and-they-know-it parents. On the first page, this 11-year-old character compared herself to them, and came up woefully short. That made me sad.

Overall, I’m always a big Know Your Audience advocate, and that goes doubly for this book. It’s not totally horrid. It’s worth a try, but remember this: your 8- to 10-year-old might love “Lulu in Honolulu,” or she might not even want it around.

View publishes Terri Schlichenmeyer’s reviews of books for children and teens weekly.