'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Tuesday 9 January 2024

Review: First Mate Lenny

First Mate Lenny
is a fun adventure story wrapped in reality.

Author Elayna Carausu is a sailor. She’s travelled the world many times on her boat, sharing her adventures. But when her first son Lenny joins the sailing team, things changed.

This is Lenny’s story.

In the cabin of a home on the sea, Mama leans over Lenny.

‘Welcome,’ she whispers, as lapping waves rock the boat like a cradle.

The story explores the world through Lenny’s eyes as he grows up on a boat. He must learn to swim, learn to walk on a boat over rollicking waves and learn to be brave when faced with dangers.

As he gets older, he becomes first mate and takes on knew responsibilities, like tying knots and checking the crew. And when a new baby brother comes along, Lenny has even more important things to do.

This is a loving picture book written by a mother for her son, but Carausu’s writing invites you to be part of the story. From the first page you are welcomed to board the boat with Lenny and be there with the family as he learns about the world.

Peppered throughout the book are also terms and labels to bring you further into life at sea. Terms like 'port', 'starboard', place names and animal names too.

Picture books based on true stories are challenging to get right, but I found First Mate Lenny to be highly engaging, entertaining and a joy to explore. Carausu injects so much emotion into the story, making you feel what Lenny does. Fear, anticipation, frustration, wonder — you’ll feel it all by Lenny’s side.

Sandra Eide’s illustrations also bring the joy-factor to the book. They’re bright and colourful. They’re gorgeously soft and beautifully textured.

Being able to see the world through someone else’s experiences is a special gift. But this is what First Mate Lenny gives to everyone who opens this book.

Title: First Mate Lenny
Author: Elayna Carausu
Illustrator: Sandra Eide
Publisher: Puffin, $24.99
Publication Date: 5 December 2023
Format: Hardcover
ISBN: 9781761341175
For ages:  3 - 6
Type: Picture Books