Saturday 9 June 2012

Letters to Leo

Letters to Leo Letters to Leo by Amy Hest, illustrated by Julia Denos (Walker Books)
HC RRP $19.95
ISBN 9780763636951
Reviewed by Anastasia Gonis

Leo is Annie Rossi’s new dog. Annie’s dad worries about her too much and doesn’t like dogs. But Leo came to her in an unexpected way, and after longing and pleading for a dog for so long, Annie was surprised when her father said, ‘the dog in the doorway can stay.’  Annie loves writing letters. Her letter of welcome to Leo is the beginning of a long list of correspondence to her new mate which opens a door for the reader to view Annie’s life and thoughts.

When Annie’s mother died, all the life and joy seeped out of father and child. Leo brings interest, joy, and adventure to Annie’s life, and slowly but surely to her father’s as well. His presence and affection finally fill the cracks that her mother’s absence created. But there are a lot of interesting and comical lessons learnt with lots of letter-writing taking place covering eight months of school and home life. Unexpected occurrences bring growth and personal change for both Annie and her dad as their grief and loneliness is replaced by optimism and hope.

Although this is a story about loss and grief and living again; about friendships and change, it is not a sad story. It is entertaining and comical with the sad bits entering like shy visitors into the text.

The black and white illustrations in crayon, pencil and paint, complement the characters and their antics. This is the second book on Annie which follows Remembering Mrs. Rossi and is suitable for 8+ readers.

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