Reading/Interest Level: Preschool
Author: Philip C. Stead
Illustrator: Erin E. Stead
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Peter, his father, and their dog Harold move to a new house just beyond some dark woods. Loneliness and disappointment set in as Peter adjusts to this change and longs to return to his old house. Peter and Harold are especially scared of the dark woods beyond the bridge. One day, Peter stitches together some blankets and pillows, creating Lenny, Guardian of the Bridge. They feel safe knowing Lenny is there to patiently and silently guard them. However, they worry about Lenny and his loneliness, so they gather blankets and leaves and create Lucy. Now everyone feels safe from the dark woods, and no one is alone. Lenny, Lucy, Peter, and Harold befriend a neighbor girl and together they play and watch out for interesting things.
The very unique tone of this book is slightly dark, but not overly so. Muted illustrations play with grey tones broken up by spots of color. The illustrations capture the dark and cold aesthetic of the creepy woods, then the warmth of the guards, Lenny & Lucy. Erin Stead also captures texture wonderfully. The text touches briefly on themes of loneliness and friendship in a new place, but doesn’t explore them in much depth. Though Lenny and Lucy supposedly guard the bridge and become great friends with Peter, we don’t ever see them talk and they don’t seem to do much other than stand or sit. There is no real interaction between the characters. In this case, the artwork carries the book over the actual content of the text.