The Magical Life of Mr Renny by Leo Timmers

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The Magical Life of Mr Renny by Leo Timmers

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 4.5/5
Reviewer: Ruth Ng
Reviewed by Ruth Ng
Summary: Magical and colourful, an interesting story with some fabulous illustrations.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 40 Date: August 2012
Publisher: Gecko Press
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1877579202

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Our story begins with the words This is not an apple below a painting of a bright green, juicy-looking apple. The apple in question has been painted by Mr Renny who is such a good painter that whatever he paints looks just like the real thing. Unfortunately for Mr Renny though, no-one wants to buy his paintings from him and so one day, a mysterious man in a bowler hat comes along and offers Mr Renny the chance to have everything he paints become real. Will this be the making of Mr Renny?

The initial painting is, of course, inspired by the painter Rene Magritte. Not that little ones will realise, but it's a nice touch for the grown ups reading the story. I like that the magical man who changes Mr Renny's life is dressed like one of Magritte's bowler hatted men. As you can imagine, when Mr Renny is given this new 'power' to transform his paintings into real life he rushes home to begin painting immediately. I liked that the first thing he painted was a hot dog, swiftly followed by an enormous cake! Mr Renny then paints himself all sorts of things that he's always wanted, starting slowly and then building to a two page spread of items including a swimming pool (with inflatables), a banquet, a chaise longue and a golf cart!

One day, however, an old friend, Rose, comes to visit him and asks to buy one of his paintings. Mr Renny has to admit that he doesn't have any, and not only that he can't even paint one for Rose. She declares he is no longer a painter then and leaves Mr Renny to his thoughts (on his chaise longue!) Mr Renny ends up painting a picture of the magical man to ask him for his help one last time.

We enjoyed this story, my daughter and I. It was fun to see all the different things Mr Renny painted, and to imagine them all coming to life or being real for him. But I also liked the gentle message within the story, that material possessions don't always make you happy and that friendship is more important. And also, perhaps, that it's important to be true to yourself and your 'calling' in life, if you have one.

The illustrations are charming. Mr Renny is a funny little dog in a yellow raincoat and enormous eyes. There's always lots to look at on each page. The market scene, where Mr Renny is trying and failing to sell his paintings, is wonderful with lots of activity and things to talk about. A little Robin that Mr Renny had painted is one of the first things to come to life, and so this little Robin is in some of the later pictures with Mr Renny and we can see the Robin's own story as he (or she) meets another Robin, they go travelling together, and then in their final scene together they can be seen kissing in Mr Renny's pink Cadillac! Unfortunately when Mr Renny asks for the magical man's help that one last time everything he'd painted suddenly vanishes, and they all turn back into paintings. So in the pile of pictures showing us a cruise ship and a bag of golf clubs and a car there is also the picture of the little Robin and sitting on top of it, looking rather sad, is the Robin's mate!

The pictures are all full of life and colour, and they compliment the text perfectly. Perfect to share with boys and girls, especially those who are keen on painting too, this is a lovely, magical story.

For more picture book stories with an artistic bent try those by James Mayhew like Katie and the Starry Night by James Mayhew

Buy The Magical Life of Mr Renny by Leo Timmers at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Magical Life of Mr Renny by Leo Timmers at Amazon currently charges £2.99 for standard delivery for orders under £20, over which delivery is free.
Buy The Magical Life of Mr Renny by Leo Timmers at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Magical Life of Mr Renny by Leo Timmers at


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