Lenny's Book of Everything

Karen Foxlee

Allen & Unwin

November 2018

$19.99 AU

342p pb

ISBN: 978-1760528706

from Allen & Unwin...

Lenny, small and sharp, has a younger brother Davey who won't stop growing - and at seven is as tall as a man. Raised by their mother, they have food and a roof over their heads, but not much else. 

The bright spot every week is the arrival of the latest issue of the Burrell's Build-It-at-Home Encyclopedia. Through the encyclopedia, Lenny and Davey experience the wonders of the world - beetles, birds, quasars, quartz - and dream about a life of freedom and adventure. But as Davey's health deteriorates, Lenny realises that some wonders can't be named.

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Small Lenny Spink had a seven-year-old brother who couldnít stop growing. Davey was optimistic and fit in easily whereas Lenny was filled with worries and struggled to find her way.  On January 5th, they applied for the Burrellís Build-It-At-Home Encyclopedia and every week they eagerly awaited the next issue. Through the encyclopedia they learnt of the wonders of the world: from beetles and falcons to Canada and Puerto Rico. The Spink family is small and somewhat distant but through the encyclopedia issues, they are able to build back their family bond. While Lenny dreams of freedom and adventure, her brother keeps growing and his health starts to decline. She begins to realise through the experiences of life that not all things are wonderful.

I loved all the new words I was able to learn in this novel. The book was scattered, as if to imitate a childís thoughts, however, I struggled to get into the book and while it is a worthwhile read, I personally didnít enjoy it as much as I would have wished to. It was filled with imaginative words and had a creative story line but towards the closing of the book it felt rushed and I didnít enjoy the ending. It addresses family problems and the declining health of a loved one. It focuses on how this could influence a childís behaviour and what could lead them to make the decisions that they do.

I would recommend this book to younger readers, 13 or 14, though it does use some complicated words that help add to the story. The books themes are family and loss, and it explores them well.

Keishan, Year 10

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