Lenny & Lucy, the latest picture book from the award-winning husband and wife team of Philip and Erin Stead, is a quietly captivating story about a boy named Peter who moves with his father and a large dog, Harold, to a new home at the edge of a big forest.
While firmly aimed at a young audience, Philip’s writing is refreshingly sophisticated from the start: “Winding along a bumpy road, through the dark unfriendly woods, Peter said, ‘I think this is a terrible idea.’” To ease his fears, Peter stitches together blankets and pillows to create a giant guardian named Lenny. To keep Lenny company, Peter also creates Lucy, and the pair bring great comfort to the anxious boy working hard to overcome his own fears. Erin’s illustrations have a slightly old-fashioned feel, drawn in the style of her Caldecott-winning A Sick Day for Amos McGee. Each detailed drawing highlights Peter’s loneliness and isolation, and then later the comfort he gains from Lenny and Lucy, who look like bulky, bundled-up snowmen. The illustrations are in various tones of gray, with muted color accents given only to the characters, a technique that adds a distinctive focus to this imaginative tale of loneliness and connection, the known and the unknown.
And sure enough, as Peter grows more comfortable in his new surroundings, along comes a young neighbor, Millie, and her mother, bringing the promise of new discoveries and adventures ahead.
Lenny & Lucy is a wonderfully reassuring book about the inventive adjustments that are sometimes necessary to confront intimidating new situations.