Leilong’s Too Long!

Authored by Julia Liu
Illustrated by Bei Lynn
Published by Gecko Press

Tagged , , , , ,

Leilong’s Too Long is the second in this series, the first being Leilong the Library Bus, from Taiwanese author and illustrator, Julia Liu and Bei Lynn, translated by Helen Wang. In this uplifting story, Leilong becomes the brontosaurus school bus travelling through the city picking up children along the way. Children living at the top of tower blocks don’t even need to use the stairs, they just slide down his neck! In the illustrations we see happy and delighted faces of all the children he carries to school and the people he notices who need help along the way: rescuing a bird nest from high in a tree; sheltering the children when they need to keep dry in the rain. Unfortunately, there are also the ‘not-so-happy’ faces of the city people as Leilong destroys overhead cables with his tail, traffic lights and walkways with his head and bridges with his big feet, ‘no matter how hard he tries, Leilong feels awkward in the city’. When the school takes the brontosaurus bus off the road Leilong hides away, sad. I won’t spoil the ending but when the children go to visit him it ends happily with the children helping Leilong find a new and fun employment that makes everyone happy.

The illustrations throughout are perfect for creating the joyful tone that runs through the book. Alongside the background of dark outlined, lively crayon illustrations, full of expressive faces on every page, Leilong takes centre stage on most pages with a bright green vibrant colour. This is a very effective way to show very young children visually who is the main character in this story. The way the author and illustrator work together is a real strength of this picture book too: for example, one short sentence captures cleverly the theme that runs through the story of kindness and helping each other ‘Leilong notices when people need help’ and through the illustrations, we see just how kind and thoughtful he is.

I couldn’t write this review without also mentioning the endpapers. They offer a talking point all by themselves as they show children travelling to school on lots of different modes of transport: camel, buffalo and cart, boat, hot-air balloon to name a few. A great opportunity to talk to younger children about how they would like to travel to school and create their own endpapers with other new kinds of transport and would support topics on travel and transport for reception, year 1 and 2. For older children it could stimulate a debate or discussion on the pros and cons of various kinds of transport and for all ages this picture book supports conversations around empathy and understanding the importance of helping each other and being kind. It’s also a picture book that could raise questions to support philosophical enquiry in the classroom such as:

  • How did Leilong feel when he was locked up?
  • Is it always possible to make something positive out of something negative?
  • How important is it to fit in?
  • Is the journey as important as the destination?

Through both pictures and text, the themes explored alongside kindness and helping each other are also friendship, acceptance, individual differences and the strength of the community. This is an original and life-affirming story that that will delight and appeal to all ages of primary children but especially early years and those just starting school. I hope there are more in this series about Leilong to come.

 

 

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