Children's Book Review by Susan Stephenson, www.thebookchook.com
From the publisher:
Lennie the Legend begins with a terrible accident on the family farm, when Lennie, remarkably at such a young age, takes on the responsibility for the ploughing. Lennie is obsessed with the marvel of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and, as a reward for saving the farm from missing the planting season, his parents grant him his wish to ride on his own to Sydney for the opening of the bridge. Lennie has all sorts of adventures along the way—a thief lurking in the bush in the dead of night, a raging bushfire, surprise appearances, celebrations in his honour, being the star of a newsreel, and meeting the Prime Minister.
This illustrated chapter book is the true story of a young boy who rode his pony from rural Victoria to Sydney in 1932. Lennie Gwyther wanted to witness the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge and so undertook a 1000 km journey on his own. Hard to understand in this day and age when some children are not allowed to venture to a park on their own. I think though that kids 7+ will be inspired by Lennie’s feat. Along the way, they’ll learn incidentally of life in an earlier time. At the end of each chapter of Lennie’s adventures, there is separate material providing information on related topics.
Reeder gives kids lots of description details that bring Lennie’s world to life for us. We share his terror when he’s trapped in a bushfire. We enjoy the fish and chips he eats at Bondi Beach and shake our heads over any boy needing to wear a knitted one-piece bathing suit. We feel his nervousness and excitement to be part of the parade at the opening of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We marvel at a journey that takes four months until Lennie and his pony, Ginger Mick, arrive back on the family farm again.
Lennie’s story is supported by images from the National Library of Australia’s collection. This means that kids can see not just photographs from that decade in Australia’s history, but art work, book covers, posters, maps etc. This really helps immerse children in that period. Even the captions and text boxes are images with an authentic look of old luggage labels and manual typing!
If you’re looking for solidly researched resources to support the Australian History Curriculum, I suggest you consider Lennie the Legend: Solo to Sydney by Pony. It’s always great to find a book that introduces kids to a true story in an entertaining way.
Find more Children's Book Reviews on The Book Chook by clicking Reviews in the right sidebar.