Lennie the Legend: Book Review

Lennie the Legend: Solo to Sydney by Pony. Book Week 2016 nominee. Read the review at Miss Jenny's ClassroomLennie. He might be but a lad but he has a goal – to see the Sydney Harbour Bridge opened. It’s a long way from home though – will he and his pony make it on their own?

Title: Lennie the Legend: Solo to Sydney by Pony
Author: Stephanie Owen Reeder
ISBN: 9780642278654          Language: English

Classification: Fiction based on an historical event
Themes: history, determination, goals, Australia

What’s it about?
This book is part information book as well as including a fictional account of an actual event. It is about a boy called Lennie who wants to see the Sydney Harbour Bridge opened in Sydney. He plans out a way to get there and off he goes on his adventure.

The pages with factual information are interesting and help support the story. such as photographs and maps. The book has high-quality gloss-type pages. The cover accurately represents the book.

The story/journey component is told in narrative form and with author-license. The book is an odd size and rather thick for children.

Lennie the Legend: Solo to Sydney by Pony. Book Week 2016 nominee. Read the review at Miss Jenny's ClassroomMy Thoughts
This book is nominated in the Information category for Book Week 2016 but I’m not convinced it should be there. A large portion of this story is written as fiction with some factual pages…I’m not sure there was enough factual information though for it to be in the Information category. I was intrigued by the blurb to read about this boy’s journey, alone, from country Victoria to Sydney…so why am I lukewarm about it?

To me there is a time for fiction and a time for fact. Every now and then a book will get it right…but this one misses the mark.

I did like the pages of factual information. They were presented well and with good snippets of information that is student and adult friendly. I think those pages were done really well – much like a scrapbook.

The problem I had was with the recount. Now, the author does make it clear that she wrote this as a fictionalised version of the events. She has clearly spent a lot of time researching and speaking with those who had first-hand knowledge and information. The story though is very long, and often more than a little tedious. I wonder at whether the information she gathered would have been better presented in smaller chunks in the form of a diary/journal entries. I really lost interest in the story very early on and flipped instead to the non-fiction information.

If the book was more informational/non-fiction then I could see myself using this book in the classroom to look at the historical significance of Sydney Harbour Bridge as well as the difference in lifestyle and freedom children had back then compared to now. In those respects there would be a lot of lively discussion about why a 10-year-old is unlikely today to be allowed to make such a journey on their own.

A great idea but I think the presentation of the information has just not nailed it on this occasion. It is still worthy of a look though just for those information pages!

Stephanie Owen Reeder. Australian author and illustrator. Visit her website

What do you think?