About the book | About the author | From the author | From the publisher | Excerpt | Reading copy giveaway
Allen & Unwin is thrilled to be publishing Karen Foxlee’s achingly beautiful new novel, Lenny’s Book of Everything. ‘Rare and incredibly special’, ‘sad, inspiring and beautiful’, ‘a masterpiece’, Lenny’s Book of Everything is about knowledge, love, loss, grief, and the inevitability of death, and will raise your spirits while breaking your heart. Powerful and emotional, Lenny’s Book of Everything is also unforgettable.
About the book
Lenny’s Book of Everything
Karen Foxlee, Allen & Unwin, November 2018
I knew my brother. I knew when he talked too much about Timothy, his imaginary pet eagle. He was scared.
‘Whatever you do,’ I said to Davey on the walk to school, ‘do not tell people about your eagle. Do not tell Miss Schweitzer about your eagle.’
He looked crestfallen. His shoulders slumped. He looked to make sure Timothy hadn’t fallen off.
Lenny, small and birdlike, has a younger brother Davey who won’t stop growing – and at seven is as tall as a man. Raised by their single mother, who works two jobs and is made almost entirely out of worries, they have food and a roof over their heads, but not much else.
The bright spot every week is the arrival of the latest issue of Burrell’s Build-It-at-Home Encyclopedia. Through the encyclopedia, Lenny and Davey experience the wonders of the world—beetles, birds, quasars, quartz, quicksand—and dream about a life of freedom and adventure, visiting places like Saskatchewan and Yellowknife, and the gleaming lakes of the Northwest Territories. But as her brother’s health deteriorates, Lenny comes to accept the inevitable truth: Davey will never make it to Great Bear Lake.
An outstanding novel about heartbreak and healing by an award-winning author.
About the author
Karen Foxlee is an Australian author who writes for both kids and grown-ups. Her first novel, The Anatomy of Wings, won numerous awards including the Dobbie Award and the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best First Book. Ophelia and the Marvellous Boy, Karen’s first novel for children, was published internationally to much acclaim, while her second novel for younger readers, A Most Magical Girl, won the Readings Children’s Fiction Prize in 2017 and was CBCA shortlisted the same year.
Karen lives in south-east Queensland with her daughter and several animals, including two wicked parrots who frequently eat parts of her laptop when she isn’t looking. Her passions are her daughter, writing, daydreaming, baking, running and swimming in the sea.
From the author, Karen Foxlee
I always find the process of story creation quite mysterious. I have the embers of so many stories smouldering in my brain and I’m never quite sure what makes one start to burn. The story of an encyclopedia set and a boy who kept growing had been in my head for many years, but it wasn’t until I was writing A Most Magical Girl that it flared to life. Lenny and Davey’s story called to me incessantly, like no other story ‘Everything will be ok if you can just write me,’ that story said. When I finally sat down to write it Lenny was there waiting for me. I felt immediately comfortable in her voice. Lenny’s Book of Everything felt huge. Davey growing and growing and growing. All the knowledge in those encyclopedia pages, the big friendships and the big love. It felt like I was trying to fit the universe inside a shoe box, but Lenny’s voice kept me calm.
While story writing is about creating a world and breathing characters to life and enticing readers on a journey, it is also, for me, just as much about sorting stuff out in my head. While I wrote I was thinking a lot about loss and grief, about ill-health, about caring for someone who is dying because I had experienced all these things in recent years. I was also thinking about love in all its forms: sibling love, motherly love, neighbourly love, the love between friends. I wanted to sort out in my head stuff about what it means to love someone who is different, how that feels and the emotions that go along with that love. But mostly, through it all, I think I was really trying to shine a light on what a cracker of a miracle it is to be alive and how everywhere, even in darkest hours, there’s always hope. Writing the story certainly gave me hope in many ways.
From the publisher, Anna McFarlane
I’m very excited to be introducing you to Karen Foxlee’s new novel, Lenny’s Book of Everything—a story about a small family who live in an apartment overlooking a bus station, and the two children, Lenny and her younger brother Davey, who watch the people come and go. Lenny is the story of their life and it’s the story of a death—and all the wondrous things in between.
Lenny’s Book of Everything is a remarkable book. I read the last few chapters at my kitchen table, sobbing, alternately wiping my glasses and wiping my nose, but too glued to the page to even lift my head. Since that day, Lenny has inspired Allen & Unwin staff from all corners of the company to give endorsements: senior editor Siobhan Cantrill wrote, Lenny is ‘rare and incredibly special’; Harry Dunbar in production called it ‘sad, inspiring and beautiful’; and Liz Christie in sales said it was ‘one of the most perfect books I’ve ever read.’
Lenny’s Book of Everything is a book about knowledge, about love, loss and grief, and a story about the inevitability of death. It sounds sad and it is sad, but Lenny’s Book of Everything raises spirits while it breaks hearts. It’s achingly powerful and beautiful, and reading it reminded me how I felt when I first read and acquired The Book Thief.
Like The Book Thief, we believe that Lenny’s Book of Everything is one of those very special books that can be read and enjoyed at any age. So please, turn the page and meet Lenny Spink. She wants to tell you about the boy who is filled with joy and can’t stop growing, the mother with a dark-heart feeling who doesn’t stop loving, the encyclopedia filled with the gift of knowledge—Lenny’s waiting to tell you everything.
Read an extract of Lenny’s Book of Everything here.
Reading copy giveaway
Be one of the first to read Lenny’s Book of Everything. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with ‘Lenny’s Book of Everything’ in the subject line for your chance to receive one of 20 proof copies.