Reviewed by Allison Paterson (www.allisonmarlowpaterson.com)
A dog called Lucy sleeps alone in an alley with a cardboard box for her shelter. The sound of buskers and the town of Bloomville rising from its slumber awakens the little dog. Lucy sets off on her daily routine, searching for food and eventually a shady place to nap and longingly dream of the days before she lost her way. Meanwhile, Eleanor, who lives with her father in their upstairs apartment, saves morsels of food to secretly dangle on a string from her window for the awaiting Lucy. Eleanor’s father, Sam, prepares for work each day at the supermarket, but his desire to juggle causes distraction and conflict. Each character yearns for something: the dog a home, the sensitive little girl a pet and her father a career as a juggler, but stage fright is Sam’s foe. The touching soul of this story is that each character and their daily activities will ultimately provide for the other that for which they yearn.
Lucy is a picture book that is difficult to categorise, being a lengthy 144 pages with several sentences on each page and divided into four separate Acts. In keeping with the theme of performance, the greyscale oil illustrations are in a circular format, as a spotlight would shine upon a stage, and feature angular characters in a suburban community going about their day. The only touch of colour is the red title that radiates from the grey dust jacket.
Unusual and quirky books such as Lucy occasionally appear and sometimes confound, being daring in their structure and tackling unusual concepts. Lucy is a tale to share and explore with readers from lower Primary age to adults and is a charming story of longing, crossed paths and “happy endings”. Highly recommended.