Peter is moving house with his family. He’s not very happy about it, and nor is Harold his dog. The new house is across a bridge from some woods. In the woods are “terrible things”, and Peter and Harold can’t sleep. What can they do?
Peter is a problem solver, and his way of solving the problem will be sweet and endearing to adults. To the group of freshly-minted new entrants I read Lenny and Lucy to, Peter was very clever. They were fascinated by the story, and highly engaged with the way the story and the illustrations connected. Lots of talk followed each page, as the children discussed whether key events were real, and what the story might mean. For example, the reader can’t see the “terrible things” in the woods. To adults, this suggests they’re probably not there and are all in Peter’s imagination; the five-year-olds’ were convinced that they were simply camouflaged.
As Peter makes his world better, he demonstrates some lovely character traits that I’m sure we all wish to see develop in our children – resilience, compassion, ingenuity and curiosity. There’s no big shouty message though, the virtues are just quietly demonstrated as you read.
The illustrations are great. The main people in the story, Peter, his family, his neighbour Millie are all in colour and the rest of the story is monochrome. The Lenny and Lucy of the title start out in a muted palette, but develop colour as the story progresses. As a teacher, the pictures are probably too small to share with a large group of children, but the dozen or so children I shared the story with were able to see without any issues.
Lenny and Lucy is a lovely, gentle story with valuable messages for those that wish to look for them. It is perfect for snuggling up and reading with a child aged 4 and up, especially if the younger reader is prone to worry.
Reviewed by Rachel Moore
Lenny and Lucy
by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead
Published by Allen & Unwin Children’s Books