When Lenny’s father goes to fight in the Second World War he gives his son a brass badge with two animals engraved on it: a lion for bravery and a unicorn for courage.
Then, Lenny himself must go away, evacuated from his home and family to escape the bombing. Staying in a strange new place, Lenny gathers all his lion bravery, all his unicorn courage, and discovers that magic can happen, even in the most desperate of times.
Teaching Ideas and Resources:
- Create a storyboard of the book.
- Write a letter from Lenny to his mum about his experiences in the country.
- Write a news report about the evacuees at the station.
- Make a collection of books about World War II, for example, When Hitler stole Pink Rabbit by Judith Kerr and War Boy by Michael Foreman.
- Make a collection of words that could be used to describe the lion and the unicorn. Use a thesaurus to find appropriate synonyms.
- List other stories, books and films that have lions and / or unicorns in them. What are the similarities and differences between them in this story and others?
- Challenge children to find all of the images of the lion and the unicorn throughout the book.
- Look carefully at how the images are laid out on the page. How do the smaller line drawings relate to the larger pictures? Can you use that idea in a story?
- Sort characters in the book depending on their attitude to Lenny. Who is kind to him? Who is unkind?
- Make a chart showing how Lenny is feeling at different times in the story.
- Choose one of the pictures and write a paragraph describing the setting.
- Write a story with a secret place in it.
- Write a diary entry for one of the characters.
- Make a fact file about evacuation during the war.
- Create a poster with facts about evacuees.
- Research the experience of evacuees.
- Look at famous paintings of fires in London, for example, The Great Fire of London (Unknown artist 1675) or A House Collapsing on Two Firemen by Leonard Rosoman. Have a go at your own fire painting.
- Sketch a statue in your area.
- Make a comparison between the city of London and the countryside.
- Write a report about the Blitz using information from this BBC video.
- Visit the Imperial War Museum website to learn more about the experience of evacuees.
- Compare the school playground in the book to your playground; what’s the same, and what’s different?
- Design your own coat of arms.
- What jobs do the women in the book do? How has the war changed their lives? Look at the broader experience of women during the war using this lesson plan and wartime posters.
- Write a list of what you would pack if you were an evacuee.
- Look at these pictures, which blend wartime images of London during the Blitz with images of the modern city. Discuss the impact of the bombing.
- Try out some of the games being played in the playground. What other playground games could you play?
- Watch this video in which 11-year-old Charlie introduces Judaism.
- Discuss Lenny’s feelings as the book progresses. How does he deal with them?
- Who can Lenny talk to in the book? Who can you talk to when you are worried or frightened?
- Do you think that Lenny was bullied by the local children and the other evacuees? Who helped him? What could you do if you were being bullied or know someone else is being bullied?