Lucy and the Green Man

Linda Newbery, Author, Pam Smy, Illustrator
Linda Newbery, illus. by Pam Smy, Random/Fickling, $16.99 (224p) ISBN 978-0-385-75204-6
Reviewed on: 01/17/2011
Release date: 11/01/2010
Legend, fable, poetry, and subtle b&w illustrations are deftly interwoven in this story of a sensitive girl who has a close rapport with her grandfather. Lucy has the rare ability to see Lob, Grandpa's amorphous, free-spirited helper. When this Green Man isn't "skittering about the woods or sleeping in the hedge," he performs garden tasks, but only "when no one was looking." Lob mostly sleeps during winter, before returning "full of spring. Full of growing." After Grandpa's sudden death, heartbroken Lucy remembers his words that Lob will "go on and on living, as long as the Earth is green," and she longs to be his new "special person." Yet Lob, driven from Grandpa's former property when developers descend, has taken to the road. Newbery (Flightsend) laces her novel with lilting, nature-themed verse representing Lob's voice ("May time now, the best of May, the coolest, mistiest, grassiest time of summer"), which is given additional weight by the large font in which it appears. Lob has several run-ins with less-than-special people before reuniting with Lucy in a finale that brings this enchanting, if at times precious, story full circle. Ages 8–12. (Nov.)
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