To the bridge: the journey of Lennie and Ginger Mick by Corinne Fenton
Illus. by Andrew McLean. Walker Books, 2020. ISBN: 9781925126822.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. This is the amazing story of nine year old Lennie Gwyther who rode his horse, Ginger Mick from Leongatha to Sydney to see the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, a journey of six hundred miles.
Lennie had always been thrilled to read of the building of the bridge, the first to read of its progress when the newspapers were dropped off at the siding near his family's farm in Victoria.
When Lennie's dad broke his leg, Lennie took over his role on the farm, feeding the chickens, chopping firewood, milking the cows and ploughing the fields. When dad came home he was so impressed with his son that he promised him a reward. All Lennie wanted to do was to see the opening of the bridge.
Father could see how much he wanted to do this, that he gave his consent. He set out, charging through bushfires, crossing the Snowy Mountains, meeting swaggies along the road, meeting school children who had heard of his quest, passing though Canberra where he was met by the Prime Minister, Jo Lyons, finally arriving in Sydney, thirty three days after leaving home. People along the way gave him food and shelter. He became well known and on March 19, 1932 he rode across the Sydney Harbour Bridge and made history.
Andrew McLean's wonderful pencil and watercolour illustrations take in the sweep of the countryside in Victoria and New South Wales, showing the contrasts that make up Australia's environments, stunningly reprised in the end papers. His city scapes too are dazzling, recreating the feel and look of Sydney during the Great Depression, when the building of the Sydney Harbour Bridge was a government sponsored program designed to keep men in work.
The images of Lennie will entrance the readers as they can see how young and small he is to undertake such a feat, marvelling at the miles he rode, comparing them perhaps with themselves and the small steps they take.
More information of the story of young Lennie can be found in any Google search and images of the lad and his horse crossing the bridge can be seen. Another book about his exploit was published in 2015 by NLA,
Lennie the Legend: Solo to Sydney by Pony (Stephanie Owen Reader) so children may like to read them both. Teacher's notes are available. Themes: Sydney Harbour Bridge, Australia - history, Sydney NSW, Journeys.