Marty and Lenny
Tellwell Talent (2022)
Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Reader Views (09/2022)
“Marty and Lenny,” by Tania Woznicki, takes a sweet look into the life of a kind monkey named Marty, and the positive effect he has on Lenny, a lion who isn’t always kind. This monkey and lion could not be more different from each other. Marty is always nice, and Lenny is always mean and rude. Lenny is a class clown that never takes anything seriously, while Marty seems to always be polite. Actually, Lenny is someone most people would find annoying and a little offensive. But Marty has an idea to help Lenny out, and he’s brave enough to proceed because that’s just how nice he is. There is a surprising turn of events that showcase Marty’s character, and Lenny’s too. What transpires between them can set a good example for young readers (or listeners!) everywhere.
Woznicki certainly has her finger on the pulse of sweet, sentimental stories that carry a positive message about making a difference in the lives of others. Marty takes a chance, and changes things, maybe forever, for Lenny. Instead of reacting to Lenny the way everyone else does, Marty takes it upon himself to take a different tact, and it creates a friendship that may never have existed if this little monkey hadn’t taken a chance.
Besides the cute, rhyming story that appeals to little ones, the artwork is adorable and engaging. Marty and Lenny represent lots of people–even children–and how they interact could have a positive outcome or a negative one. It’s about not giving up and being gentle with people–even those who may seem rough around the edges. It can teach adults lessons too, about giving others a chance. When children are in pre-school, they may encounter others who behave differently from them, and this book could help instill ideas about how to approach and communicate with others—in a friendly way. Some of the best friendships start with two people just trying to get along.
One thing that helps this book succeed is that the author grounds the plot and characters in her background in teaching and psychology, which really brings the takeaway home. This book would be ideal in a preschool setting, or for adults to read to children at libraries or at home. “Marty and Lenny,” by Tania Woznicki, is a children’s story with values and heart, and will stay with readers for a long time to come.