Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Leo and the Lesser Lion
by Sandra Forrester
296 pages

This is Mary Bayliss Pettigrew's story.  It involves her whole family during the Depression.  Bayliss has an older brother, Leo and an older sister, Kathleen.  Her and Leo are like "two peas in a pod"-pulling pranks and finding all sorts of ways to get in trouble together.  Even though it's the Depression and her father, the country doctor, gets paid in potatoes the family has a good life, a happy life.  It never lasts, though and this tragedy comes in the form of a boat, given to Bayliss from Leo on her birthday.  The first part of the story deals with Leo's death and Bayliss' painful recovery.  While she misses Leo, her father takes in two orphan sisters and this second stage makes the Bayliss' story shine as she adjusts to making room for these two very different sisters.
My thoughts:  I loved Bayliss.  She was plucky and had a wonderful best friend, Annie, who always gave her good advice.  I loved the strong brother/sister relationship between Leo and Bayliss, which thankfully, we get to experience first hand not just in flashbacks.  I thought the struggle in Bayliss' heart was real and true; how difficult it would be to share your family with strangers when your heart feels broken.  I, also, thought Bayliss' father's struggle with God was candid and accurately portrayed.  My favorite character was Tommie Dora, Bayliss' grandmother, who was rough and a bit crusty but like good bread, really soft and a little sweet in the middle.  This one didn't make me sob as much as other tragedy books, which was okay and I can't explain the difference, except maybe because the sadness was mixed with an awful lot of Depression happiness! 
Here's an example of the joy: 
It couldn't have been more than two seconds later when somebody jerked the quilt off me, and then Mother was yelling in my ear, "Rise and shine, sugar! This morning is a gift." 
This morning is a gift.  I'd heard those words hundreds-maybe thousands-of times in my life.  Mother would say them on steamy summer mornings and frosty winter ones.  On any day she judged to be especially fine.  And my mother seemed to think most mornings were especially fine. (p. 43-44 Leo and the Lesser Lion, Sandra Forrester)
I guess it's because this family comes closer to each other and not apart that I didn't fall apart-I was rooting for them, too.
I checked this out from my local library so it counts for the library challenge!
Highly Recommended
Upper Elementary/Middle Grade Fiction
5/5 peaceful stars

1 comment:

NatalieSap said...

I very nearly checked this one out the other day. Guess I'll have to go back for it!