We need books! We need stories and voices that say the same things that we hear in our heads; we need to know there are others like us. When I read Lenny’s Space by Kate Banks, that’s exactly how I reacted.
Lenny is a boy who is very intelligent and creative but not emotionally on par with his classmates. His immaturity doesn’t seem to be due to any affliction or condition (which can also be a powerful story) but rather comes from Lenny’s views of the world as a place to be curious about and manipulate creatively, rather than interpreted through feelings. Lenny predictably upsets even his patient teachers and mother with his detached take on reality, but meetings with a special teacher/therapist named Muriel show that Lenny’s feelings are there, just waiting for an outlet.
In the beginning, Lenny has no friends, never knew his father, and his mother is a hand model who never takes her gloves off. Each of these is something that turns into a point of development for Lenny, in ways that are beautiful and painful, and sometimes both. Lenny’s character really reminded me of myself in the times when he humorously passes judgement on people and events with a myopic flair for uncommon sense, such as his verdict that the principal’s chair is wasted because he never spins around in it, only sits down straight.
I think this is a wonderful book for children who may find themselves misunderstood even though they know they are intelligent, but also a very canny portrayal of the child some of us once might have been. This book was certainly that for me, is there a book like that for you?