February 2010, David Fickling Books
224 pages, Hardback
Gardening, imagination, relationship between grandparents and grandchildren, grief, tragedy, lots of tissues needed, change,
Summary from Random House Children's Books
Stand quietly in a park, garden, or the woods one day. Listen! Watch! If you are one of the lucky ones, you will see him. Lob! A green man.
You have to be a special person to see Lob, that’s what Grandpa Will says. Lucy’s parents don’t believe he exists, but Lucy does. And she’s delighted when she finally catches sight of the Green Man in Grandpa’s garden.
Then something awful happens, and Lucy feels that her life has turned upside-down. Back at home in London, she wonders whether she’ll ever see Lob again. Will he come and find her?
Lob isn't an acronym for anything, and isn't the verb related to chucking (or perhaps more politely) throwing an object around. Lob is....Lob. The phrase A green man did have me thinking about little green aliens (as did a few secondary characters in the book, although theirs wasn't as curious a thought as mine was). Lob is the person who helps Grandpa out, who cleans the tools, and helps keep the garden nice. For quite a while, I felt the same as Lucy's parents. I thought Grandpa was playing make believe. But he wasn't. Lob was real. When I discovered this, was when Lucy doubted that he existed. Because her life gets turned upside down. She experiences her first major loss in life. She doesn't know how to deal with the grief that wells up inside her. I was nearly in floods of tears when she got the sad news. For a good two chapters I was tearful for what she had lost. I empathised for her disliking how everything in life changed just because of one huge event. She isn't sure about Lob's existence, but she carries on growing things, even when she's teased at school. During this time Lob journeys about the country, meeting different people. Some are nice, some are not. Lob's thoughts and feelings are written in a different sized font, which demonstrates that he's different to the other characters.
Lob isn't always nice though. He isn't like a helpful little elf doing good all the time. No, Lob can be really scary. I'm not saying the people didn't deserve it, but I felt what he did wasn't at all friendly. (Yup, my 2nd scary book of the day (Possessions by Nancy Holder was the first)) The illustrations of Lob added to my fear - there isn't really any detail of home. I liked how the reader got introduced to different peoples' lives, and to the world of gardening. By the time Lob found his final person to help near the end of the story, I could see that he could be useful. Maybe it wasn't his fault he was unkind to some people. The world is a scary please, especially if you don't know all the customs. The kindness and compassion Lucy, her Grandpa, and the others give demonstrates to the reader that treating people this way is how we should be.
This is one of those children's stories that you may only read once, but it will stay with you for a lifetime.
You can find out more information about Linda and her books on her website.