Picture Book Review: Lenny & Lucy by Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead
Review: Lenny & Lucy by Philip C. Stead, illus. Erin E. Stead
Source: Hardcopy courtesy of Raincoast Books. Thank you!
Publication: October 6, 2015 by Roaring Brook Press
Peter and his father are moving to a new house beyond the dark unfriendly woods. When they arrive at their new home, Peter wants to turn back. Fortunately, he has Harold for company, but Harold is just a dog and can’t help Peter. Scared of the things hidden in the woods, Peter makes a tall pile of pillows. He stiches and sews. He pushes and pulls. And when he is done, he has Lenny, Guardian of the Bridge, to protect him and Harold.
Lenny is a good guard but Peter worries that Lenny will get lonely out by the woods all by himself, so he makes Lucy, who is a good friend. Together, Lenny, Lucy, Peter, and Harold discover that this new place isn’t so scary after all.
There are certain pairings of author-illustrator that I, quite simply, anticipate and cherish. After my first reading of Caldecott Medal Winner A Sick Day for Amos McGee, I knew that the Steads’ joint work would be a pairing that I would always look forward to; their next joint picture book, Bear Has a Story to Tell further cemented that. For their third work together, Lenny & Lucy, the Steads’ have crafted another stunning picture book: a gentle, unusual and enchanting work that shines in its story and artwork.
Picture books that I read over and over again, or those that I think and wonder about, are often with undercurrents of whimsy and/or strange. Think of Sam and Dave Dig a Hole. The Dark. Black Dog. Or Extra Yarn. Or Where the Wild Things Are. Or This Is Sadie. There are elements in all of the aforementioned which mark the way for closer readings, second or third readings, and studying of the artwork. In Lenny & Lucy, the combination of Erin E. Stead’s distinct style and careful palette with Philip C. Stead’s softly melancholy yet hopeful story are just right.
At its heart a story about friendship, Lenny & Lucy also approaches subject matters such as fear, loneliness after moving, and hope. When a young boy named Peter and his dependable dog Harold meet their new home, readers are immersed into a world of trees, of quiet, of dark woods, and of unknown ‘terrible things’. For their protection, Peter builds Lenny, Guardian of the Bridge, out of pillows and blankets, to keep danger over the bridge and away from their home, deep in the woods. After both Peter and Harold lose sleep at the possibility of Lenny being lonely, Lucy is crafted to keep them all company, leading the way to some marvelous- not so scary- happenings.
Wondrous in style and story, Lenny & Lucy is a terrific picture book that I definitely recommend. Readers who like the work of some authors and illustrators such as Mac Barnett, Sara O’Leary, Jon Klassen, Julie Morstad, or Maurice Sendak (whose titles were mentioned above), might especially enjoy this beautiful title.
I received a copy of this title from Raincoast Books in exchange for an honest review.