I remember borrowing this book from the library when my bigger boy was only 1. Lunchtime was (and still is) a favourite part of the day so the topic was perfect. When we read it I was so happy to see that the book features a child with his Dad as the main caregiver. This is quite rare to see in picture books so I have always remembered this one. I saw it in our library’s book sale last week so I jumped at the chance to take it home forever!
Lenny Has Lunch by Ken Wilson-Max and published by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books is an ever so sweet look in to the life of Lenny and his Daddy as they prepare and eat their lunch.
The story is written in wonderfully simple statements describing the actions of Lenny, Daddy and Wilbur the dog. I love the simplicity of each sentence as we go through the sequence of events, it gives you the opportunity to really focus on each action. Lenny is at the stage of development where he is copying words and actions and the writing reflects that well. There is a lovely page where Daddy has chopped the vegetables and counts them going into the pot, on the opposite page, Lenny is copying this with a pot of crayons.
The illustrations are bold with thick brush strokes in vibrant colours. They build on the story so beautifully as Ken Wilson-Max has managed to capture the subtle body language and social interactions between a parent and their child. The unconditional love and strong bond between them is apparent through the way they watch each other from afar; the tender and loving way that Daddy cares for Lenny creates a sense of security and calm that envelopes every scene.
Small children will easily relate to the actions and dialogue in this book and these open up opportunities for talking about their own experiences with them. There are also lots of sounds in the story that are fun to make and copy; “Splash! Slurrp! Slurrp! Splash!” As Lenny enjoys his lunch and, “Mmmmmmm” when he’s finished.
Daddy is a great role model for any parent or caregiver, he naturally finds lovely little opportunities to play with Lenny and make him laugh. They sit together and sing ‘Row Row Row Your Boat’ while the lunch is cooking, Daddy tickles Lenny when he lifts him out of his highchair. Just perfect.
There are lots of things I love about this book; I’ve already mentioned that I was so happy to find a book with a male caregiver. It also features a family who aren’t white, which is unfortunately too rare a thing in picture books. The greatest thing about this book however, is how naturally it is presented; I love that the fact it is a Daddy caring for Lenny isn’t even hinted at on the cover. And although I am obviously pointing it out in this review, this book is a wonderful representation of real life and real families.
You can find out more about the author Ken Wilson-Max, including Chicken! his current affairs newspaper for primary school children, on his website here.Follow @Acornbooks