Monday, November 16, 2015

The Little Crooked Bookshelf

Lenny & Lucy
by Phillip C. Stead
illustrated by Erin E. Stead

This week's pick is from cottager, Anika Denise.

What it's all about . . .
Peter and his father are moving to a new house, over a bridge, beyond the dark unfriendly woods. Scared and skeptical, Peter constructs Lenny out of pillows and blankets, and anoints him "Guardian of the Bridge." But Lenny will be lonely, so Peter makes him a companion, Lucy. With Lenny and Lucy's watchful reassuring presence, Peter and his dog Harold rest easier, and begin to acclimate to their new home.

Why it's on The Little Crooked Bookshelf . . .
A dark and bleak unknown is met with a mix of childlike pragmatism and imagination in this quietly enchanting fairytale from award-winning husband and wife team Phillip and Erin Stead. Not one word is wasted or out of place, and the illustrations work a subtle magic upon the reader with gray toned landscapes punctuated by washes of deep gold, red, green, blue and purple.

Our favorite lines . . .
So the next day Peter made a tall pile of pillows. And after they'd 
toppled the pile six times Peter ran in to find just the right
blankets. He stitched and sewed and wrapped the pile up,
tying it shut with string. He pushed and pulled and kneaded 
the wrapped-up pillows like dough.

Our favorite illustration . . .

Why kids will love it . . .
Because Lenny and Lucy are gentle giants: familiar, comforting and magical all at once. Because the story is quiet and hopeful, and there's a dog—a good dog—and the promise of a new friend in the end.

Why grown-ups will love it . . .
It will remind them of books they read when they were children. Like Sendak, the Steads don't shy away from the darker emotions and fears of childhood—and yet with subtlety and warmth, present a tale that is both captivating and reassuring.

istory in this picture book publishing in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965. - See more at:


  1. I just read--and loved--this book. All their books are so soulful and lovely, aren't they?

    1. Soulful is the perfect word to describe their books, Linda. I'd been thinking it also feels like just the right book for this particular time of the year, with its muted palette, characters draped in scarfs and hats, and the last gold leaf clinging to a tree. I didn't mention in the review above, but I was pondering how the book really captures the feeling of quiet that comes just before winter roars in. Then I read the Boston Globe interview yesterday and it expressed that exact sentiment beautifully:

      Thanks for your comment!

  2. Loved the illustrations (especially the dog :) )