Lucy by Randy Cecil is a truly special book that is hard to categorize. Is it a really long picture book? Is it a really big chapter book? Told in three acts and illustrated in soft black and grey tones, Lucy feels almost like a silent movie that has been captured in the pages of a book. A few years ago while working for a literary agent, I learned that the industry standard for a picture book is 1,500 words. That means that greats like Bill Peet and William Steig, to name just a few, might not get published if they were submitting manuscripts today. I also often find myself missing the richness of a longer picture book and the complex stories that can be told when more than 1,500 words are used. I am SO grateful to both Randy Cecil for writing Lucy and to Candlewick Press for publishing this marvelous, genre and standard bending book.
Told in three acts (plus a very short Act IV), there are layers of threes in this book. There are three main characters: Lucy, the stray dog, Eleanor, the girl who feeds her each morning and Eleanor's father, Sam Wische, an aspiring performer. We see Lucy perform her morning routine three times in a row, we see Eleanor perform her morning routine three times in a row and we see Sam try to perform in front of an audience three times, the third one being the charm. There are three flashbacks to Lucy's life before she became a stray.
Lucy, Eleanor and Sam's lives all intertwine and overlap, coming together for a climactic, satisfying ending in Act III. Lucy is looking for something special from her life before becoming a stray, Eleanor finds herself looking for Lucy in Act III, and Sam is looking for a way to overcome his stage fright and share his passion. Cecil's storytelling is sweet and uncomplicated and the repetition is comforting, as are warmly fuzzy illustrations that are presented in a circular composition. Lucy might feel like a simple story, but the more you read it, and the more you think about it long after having read it, the more you will realize that it's not!
Source: Review Copy