I am Lenny Brown

Dan Freedman, illustrated by Kaijsa Hallström

Lenny Brown is eight years old and can’t talk. Except to his mum and his dog, Rocky.

When Lenny has to move house and start a new school, it feels like his whole life is changing, and not for the better. Will he be able to make friends and find a way to fit in? But when Lenny finds a different way to express himself, through his football skills, everyone discovers how amazing Lenny can be.

A gentle, tender and moving story about selective mutism. The characters are well rounded and the novel empathetically shows that many people have some kind of battle or internal struggle going on in their lives. It might not be visible to others but can affect their behaviour. For Lenny, it is his inability to speak outside his home; for Cameron it is likely to be his home situation which leads to his bullying behaviour. Lenny’s ability to see and understand animals and plants plus his very funny jokes show the reader that children can have great hidden depths and abilities if we only look for them.

I really liked the structure of the book, the way the story develops and how football becomes the mechanism for helping Lenny to release his emotions as well as a vehicle for ‘setting him free’. It’s a very readable book which moves along at the pace of a ball across a football pitch, challenges the reader’s thinking and gives a good insight into the issues of selective mutism, a topic not really covered in children’s books for this age group. I’m not an expert on selective mutism but I think Dan Freedman describes Lenny’s battle and challenges very well. A great addition to empathy book collections. Powerful, humorous, and a great story – I loved it

Reviewed by Annie Everall