When Lucy took her paints outside to the garden, the cat purred, and Lucy painted, and Lucy was happy, until, one day…
Author-illustrator Eugenie Fernandes brings readers the story of Lucy, a young girl who loves to paint. As she paints, Lucy has a series of visitors, each with their own ideas about what her painting should be. Lucy, wanting to please her visitors, changes her painting to meet each one’s ideas, but, at the end, she realizes that her own artistic vision is worth expressing.
In Finding Lucy, Fernandes’ text emphasizes a dramatic, read-aloud quality with capitalization and syllabic breakdown (eg. “Lucy was all DIS-COM-BOB-U-LATED”), but this emphasis results in a disjunctive-looking text with certain words which visually “screamed” at the reader and which takes away the agency of the reader in interpreting which words should be emphasized and how they should be read. While the story is told using repetition as a device, the stream of visitors does get a little overly repetitive, and some story tendrils, such as the Broadway-singing frog, seem out of place and take away from the flow of the larger story. That being said, the choice to include the backstories of the animal characters allows readers to imagine a larger story universe and could serve as a jumping-off point for imaginative exercises. Fernandes also does not shy away from using big words and challenges her readers to expand their vocabularies; for child readers who love language, this story is a treat.
In addition to writing the text, Fernandes also painted Finding Lucy’s illustrations, using acrylic paint on canvas which gives the illustrations vibrancy and texture. Lucy and her series of animal visitors are dynamic and interactive; in one illustration, Lucy is shown sharing a cup of tea with the elephant reporter. The illustrations are an explosion of bright colours, light, and joy. Fernandes uses a playful mix of semi-abstract solid shapes to form the background and cartoon-like animation to depict Lucy and the animals. The illustrations are every bit as energetic and cheerful as the text.
Finding Lucy is recommended for young artists finding their own artistic voices and lovers of bright and vibrant illustrations.
Sabrina Wong is a librarian at Capilano University in North Vancouver, British Columbia.