How I love Pamela Zagarenski! You probably remember her name from the Caldecott winning SLEEP LIKE A TIGER, or from the beautiful THE WHISPER that published last year. Her illustrations never fail to blow me away, and in her latest picture book, HENRY & LEO, she brings children and adults alike yet another exquisite story. For any of you who have a child in your life that is attached to a lovey, a stuffed animal or another transitional object, this is a story you need in your collection.
In HENRY & LEO, Henry is gifted Leo, a stuffed lion, on his second birthday. The two become inseparable. Like many children with beloved stuffed animals, Henry imparts actual feelings to Leo, yet his family always tries to remind him that Leo cannot feel anything because he is not real. One night, after going on a walk with his family, Henry gets in bed only to realize that Leo is missing. Though the family searches every nook and cranny of the house, Leo is nowhere to be found. The next morning, though, Leo appears in a spot that everyone is convinced they had checked the night before. How on earth did Leo get there?
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There are so many things to love about HENRY & LEO, starting with Zagarenski’s whimsical and always enchanting illustrations. Once lost, several soaring wordless spreads depict little Leo as he makes friends in the woods who help him find his way back home. Every page is filled with beautiful, rich details, all of which lift Zagaranski’s signature dream-like images off of the pages and into your heart. But beyond the illustrations, the story’s theme is one that so many of our kids can relate to- that special bond they share with that one sacred object that comes with them everywhere they go. We can be so fast to tell a child who personifies this object that it isn’t real, but this book makes us second guess being so quick to judge. These transitional objects provide such comfort to our little ones, and they also infuse magic and wonderment into their lives. Who are we to take that away?! This is such a beauty- another tender treasure by Zagarenski that reminds us all to let our little ones be little, and let them languish in their ability to see the world with eyes touched by magic. That ability won’t be there for long. This book comes out on October 3 but don’t wait — you can preorder it now!
Want the book? Get it here! HENRY & LEO, by Pamela Zagarenski. *This is an affiliate link.