There’s Something Weird About Lena
Walker Books, 2020
32pp., hbk., RRP $A25.99
On my first day back at school I met a girl called Lena. Every time she acted mean she laughed like a hyena.
But it is not only Lena’s laugh that is weird – look closely at the illustrations and you will see the reason for it. Lena loves playing pranks and gets great delight in seeing others’ humiliation and fear. But finally the others have had enough and decide to play a prank on Lena…
Given the number of storybooks I’ve read over the years, I expected to discover that Lena had some sort of social impediment that hampered her interaction with other children and that this would be resolved through friendship, kindness and understanding so when this is not the case it was a big surprise. Lena probably does have issues with socialising but whatever they are, she’s content to continue being mean and scaring the children, and the readers. It seems she is happy to be different, on the outer and disliked (although the teacher in me wonders if it’s a case of hurting before being hurt.) Perhaps there could be some discussion and speculation about why she is like she is, just to help the students understand that there are always reasons for behaviour, and it is not a surface thing.
Created by the duo who also created My Dead Bunny about a zombie rabbit, told in Cohen’s signature rhyming text and illustrated in a monochromatic palette with splashes of bright orange, this is one for those who love horror, unexplained weirdness and all things gross! Probably a perfect bedtime read for tonight given the restrictions on Halloween activities and one that might introduce a new genre to those craving a bit more than the usual in their stories.