The Lion and The Unicorn

Overview

When Lenny Levi's father goes off to fight in World War II, his son has to learn to be brave when bombs are dropped on his street in London, when he is evacuated to a big house in the country, and when spiteful children tease him and call him names. This beautiful book will strike a chord with anyone who has ever felt homesick or alone. Full of detail and character, it embraces the past and the present with unique poignancy and power. Full color.

Lenny, a Jewish boy ...

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Overview

When Lenny Levi's father goes off to fight in World War II, his son has to learn to be brave when bombs are dropped on his street in London, when he is evacuated to a big house in the country, and when spiteful children tease him and call him names. This beautiful book will strike a chord with anyone who has ever felt homesick or alone. Full of detail and character, it embraces the past and the present with unique poignancy and power. Full color.

Lenny, a Jewish boy living in London during the Blitz in World War II, must adjust to many changes and find the true meaning of courage when he is evacuated to a large mansion in the English countryside.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Linnea Hendrickson
A young Jewish boy evacuated from London during the Blitz in World War II, finds life difficult and different at the country estate to which he is sent. Ostracized by the other children, and teased for wetting the bed, Lenny is befriended by a young one-legged man returned from the war, whom he meets in a secret garden containing a magical unicorn statue. When he faces his own fears one night, Lenny learns firsthand about one of the different kinds of courage his friend has mentioned. Hughes's typically robust, expressive characters here are effectively placed against impressionistic backgrounds that are darker, larger, and more dramatic than her usual cozy domestic settings, emphasizing Lenny's fears and lonely struggles, and eventually the happy resolution.
School Library Journal
K-Gr 4-An offering that is remarkable on many counts. It is, first and foremost, a moving story of a Jewish boy who comes to understand the nuances of bravery when he leaves his mother and their London home and goes to the countryside during the Blitz. Much of the impact comes from the author's effective use of foreshadowing, personification, and symbol in relation to the lion and the unicorn. The animals are introduced on a medal given to the boy by his father before he went off to war, with the admonition to be brave. The ferocious lion is linked to tangible sources of fear. Lenny discovers a statue of a unicorn in a walled garden where he has been sent to live. It is here that he also meets a young war hero with an amputated leg and discovers another side of strength-and of bravery. Hughes masterfully blends the real and the mythical in an enormously satisfying climax. Paintings of different sizes face text framed with black pen-and-ink lines and sketches. The gray, green, and blue background palette unifies the war and garden scenes, but the former is punctuated with the orange of flames, the latter with magenta flowers and warm, yellow sunlight. Place this in the ranks of other titles in which the garden and the friendships that develop there are a source of solace and inner strength.-Wendy Lukehart, Dauphin County Library, Harrisburg, PA
Kirkus Reviews
From Hughes (Enchantment in the Garden, 1997, etc.), a WWII story with big ambitions—many of them realized—set out in the pages of an unusually long picture book. Lenny Levi lives in London with his mother during the Blitz, cherishing the letters from his father at the front, and the medal of the lion and the unicorn his father gave him. When Lenny is evacuated to the country, he finds himself at a huge old manor with three little girls, the lady of the house, and a few servants. He is lonely, teased at school and at home for not eating bacon and for bedwetting, but makes a friend of the young man with one leg he meets in the secret garden on the estate. The garden, thick with roses, also holds a beautiful statue of a unicorn like the one on his medal. As Lenny's loneliness and fear spiral out of control, a night vision of the unicorn brings him back; his mother comes to take them both to his aunt in Wales, where his father will join them. The storyline, while straightforward, hints at difficult subjects—religious differences, amputees, separation, family disruptions, the terror of bombing, and more—which are then given only cursory treatment. The pictures are splendid: luminous, full-bodied watercolors that capture the horror of London burning, the glory of the countryside, and mists of dreams. It may be difficult for this to find its audience, but children too young for Michelle Magorian's Good Night, Mr. Tom (1986) might be captured. (Picture book. 8-10)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780789425553
  • Publisher: DK Publishing, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/15/1999
  • Edition description: 1 AMER ED
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 64
  • Age range: 7 - 11 Years
  • Lexile: AD640L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 11.24 (w) x 9.34 (h) x 0.45 (d)

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