Speak Out, Leonard! By Jessie James and Tamara Angeón

The Blurb On The Back:

Speak out, Leonard!

It’s a normal school day for Leonard and the other Shrew children.  But some days, Leonard can be a bit shy and finds it difficult to speak up.  And today is one of those days.

When little Leonard sees his friend being picked on in the playground, can he find the courage to speak out and save the day?

Come on, you can do it.  Speak out, Leonard!

Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

You can order SPEAK OUT, LEONARD! by Jessie James and Tamara Angeón from Amazon UK, Waterstone’s or Bookshop.org UK.  I earn commission on any purchases made through these links.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

It’s a school day and Leonard Shrew is getting ready to go to school with his 4 siblings.  As the youngest and being quite shy and reticent, he finds it difficult to speak up for what he wants.  So when his siblings say they want berries for breakfast, Leonard doesn’t speak up to say he’d prefer pancakes and when someone knocks into him on the way to school so he drops the apple for his teacher, he doesn’t tell his parents to stop so he can pick it up.  And the behaviour continues at school when someone takes his snack and he misses out on being it in a game of tag.  But when Leonard spots one of his friends being bullied in the schoolyard, he knows he’s going to have to do something – but can he find the courage to actually speak up?

Jessie James and Tamara Anegón’s picture book sequel to LOOK OUT, LEONARD! is another charming tale about the importance of finding your voice and speaking up for yourself.  Young readers will empathise with Leonard’s shyness and I liked Anegón’s vibrant pictures of the animals, but I wished some action had been taken against the bully and that Leonard had been told it was important to speak up not just to help others.

I picked this up because I enjoyed James and Anegón’s previous book, LOOK OUT, LEONARD! and particularly the way the repeated chorus encouraged young readers to join in with any parents or caregivers reading along with them.  The same chorus device is used here and I think it works better because it gives adults the chance to talk to young readers about what and why Leonard should be speaking up.

My one criticism about the book is that while I liked that Leonard found his courage by speaking up for someone else, I wished that there had been some consequence for the bully other than being allowed to run away.  I also wished there had been something that made clear it was just as important for Leonard to speak up about something that affected him, even if it was just dropping an apple or not getting a snack.

That said, Anegón’s illustrations remain very charming – I love the bright colours plus there’s a pangolin in Leonard’s class and who doesn’t love pangolins?  All in all, this is a fun series and I’d definitely check out a third book in this series.  

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