Review Blog

Feb 17 2016

Lenny and Lucy by Philip C Stead

cover image

Ill. by Erin E. Stead. Allen and Unwin, 2016. ISBN 9781760292119
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Moving home, Friendship, Family life, Overcoming fear, Loneliness. What a delight! A car piled high with belongings makes its way through a forest of tall trees. Dad driving, a young wide eyed boy and his dog sit in the back seat. The cover says so much. The boy and his Dad are moving house, but just the two, with a dog, inviting all sorts of questions from readers. The trees crowd the little car but as the trees thin out their destination is reached, and the car trundles over a wooden bridge to their new home. Harold and Peter stare out over the bridge at night and are frightened by what they see. The forest could hide anything. The next day they take a pile of pillows and blankets to the bridge and build Lenny, the Guardian of the Bridge. He guards the bridge well, but Peter sees that he needs company, so the next day he and Harold build a companion for Lenny. Peter and Harold play marbles with the two guardians, and eat their vegetables together, aware that they are now safe.
One day Millie from next door comes over to show Peter the owl. The group now consists of five and together they watch the owl. The woods no longer seem fearful.
Beautifully illustrated, the tale of a young boy coming to terms with change, of learning to cope with fear, of being resilient, will appeal to all readers, as they recognise situations they have all experienced, and learn from Peter's behaviour, that fear can be managed.
This pair wrote and illustrated one of my favourite books, A sick day for Amos McGee, a Caldecott Medal winner, and Erin's illustrative technique is deceptively simple. The few colours used against a mainly white and sometimes grey backdrop, suit the story beautifully, adding to the threatening feel of the forest with those tall straight trunked trees. Fascinatingly the trees are almost like prison bars when Peter looks out of the window, but with overcoming his fear, the trees take less and less space on the page, until on the last page they are almost all gone. I could go on, as the illustrations are to be looked at over and over again, supporting and extending the sparse text.
Fran Knight

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