Lawrence, a human with a fuzzy hat and wide eyes, prefers to remain in his own house and yard, reading or tinkering on his projects, rather than facing the unfamiliar figures of life beyond the fence. Sophia, a frazzled bird, similarly keeps to the trees, far away from the shadowy perils below. A moment of bravery leads to a chance meeting and an instant friendship between the two that slowly pushes their self-imposed boundaries. When a massive storm hits, it is everything the duo fears. But perhaps something beautiful can grow from the destruction. In a slight—but lovely—departure from author Doreen Cronin’s typical comical animal antics, Lawrence & Sophia is an endearing tale of friendship.
Though more subdued in tone, Lawrence & Sophia maintains the wry humor from Cronin’s popular Diary of a Worm and Click, Clack, Moo: Cows that Type. Cronin’s word choice is impeccable. Frequently repeated words keep the story predictable and without frills—making it a good choice for beginning readers—while echoing Sophia and Lawrence’s black-and-white mindset. Their broad characterizations of the world as “dangerous” or “loud” may resonate with young children and bring opportunities to discuss how our perception can differ from reality.
The soft color palette of Brian Cronin’s illustrations enhances the warm atmosphere of the text. His depictions of the characters’ expressions add a layer of sophistication and humor. Both bird and boy are frightened of what lurks beyond their realm, but those shadowy figures are drawn to be easily recognizable (a garter snake, the neighbor and his dog) by readers—making Lawrence & Sophia a safe story for bedtime. That said, a double-page storm spread is striking and just the right amount of alarming.
There is always room on the shelf for new stories about friendship and facing your fears. Lawrence & Sophia is a sweet, attractive and heartfelt addition.