BookPage Top Pick in Children's, August 2016
Parents of children in the early elementary grades often feel pressure to “graduate” their kids to chapter books as soon as they begin learning to read. Randy Cecil’s Lucy offers a heartfelt reminder that the picture book form can remain relevant and even necessary long after the preschool years.
At the beginning of the book, we meet solitary Eleanor Wische and her father, Sam, an aspiring juggler, as well as a nameless stray dog whom Eleanor feeds breakfast scraps. The three are united in their loneliness and in their desire to find a way to belong. Over the course of several seemingly ordinary days, the three of them pursue extraordinary dreams—and discover their need for one another.
Lucy is long for a picture book, more than 100 pages divided into four “Acts” (perhaps to appease the chapter book crowd). Each Act opens with an old-fashioned city streetscape, and then each following page includes a bit of text—from a paragraph to just a line or two—accompanied by a sepia-toned illustration, a small vignette whose subtleties will reward careful observers.
The story, too, is full of charming details for careful readers and listeners. Cecil uses repetition to tell his story, but the repetitions are full of tiny tweaks and twists that keep readers guessing (and sometimes giggling) and propel the story to its cozy, satisfying end.
Illustration copyright (c) 2016 by Randy Cecil. Reproduced with permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA.