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Lucy and the Green Man

Review

Lucy and the Green Man

It takes a lot of concentration and perhaps a bit of imagination, but Grandpa Will has taught Lucy how to look --- really look --- and now she sees the Green Man, too. It’s usually from a sideways glance, and just a brief glimpse, as he’s very shy. The Green Man is Grandpa's secretive garden helper who works when no one is around and only when he feels like it. Lucy's grandmother and parents don't believe that the Green Man exists, but Lucy is excited to be outside working in the garden knowing that it’s teeming with secrets. Grandpa is teaching his granddaughter how to garden, and Lucy loves to putter around in the rich soil planting, watering and tending plants.

But when Grandpa Will dies rather suddenly, leaving Lucy very sad, things just aren't the same. The cottage and land he rented are sold, which means no more garden for Lucy to work in. Now even Lob, the Green Man, has disappeared. Lob needs to find another garden to work in, another lovely piece of land to keep tidy for someone who really needs his special help. Because that is what the Green Man does, according to legend.

Lob is walking on the road for a very long time. He is heading south but doesn't know why. He experiences many confusing and frightening things as he wanders around in the big city of London --- escalators, traffic, the tube station. He's tired and hungry, but no one seems to notice the small shaggy person, or at least no one who can make himself understood.

And there are changes for Lucy, too. A lot can change in just one year of a child's life. Her family, who lives in the city, finally gets a little plot where they can make a garden. She remembers what Grandpa taught her about planting, and has happy memories of him as she tends her new garden. Very often she wonders about Lob, and hopes that he will find her and want to stay nearby.

This charming book teaches gentle lessons about loss and the cycles of nature. The chapters are short, there’s a lot packed into the carefully chosen words, and it’s a wonderful title for reading aloud. And just in case you think you've never encountered a Green Man, surely you’ve seen a kindly man's face carved in stone or wood and framed in ivy leaves. That, dear readers, is the Green Man.

Reviewed by Carole Turner on November 9, 2010

Lucy and the Green Man
by Linda Newbery

  • Publication Date: November 9, 2010
  • Hardcover: 224 pages
  • Publisher: David Fickling Books
  • ISBN-10: 0385752040
  • ISBN-13: 9780385752046