Culture Street

Sir Lenny Henry is bringing Kit de Waal’s debut novel My Name is Leon to the TV screen. Lenny Henry (Broadchurch) was inspired to purchase broadcasting rights after narrating the audio book.

The book was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award. It is longlisted for the Desmond Elliott Prize and was the winner of France’s Plume de Bronze Award for fiction.

At the heart of the story in nine-year-old Leon who has a perfect baby brother called Jake. They have gone to live with Maureen, who has fuzzy red hair like a halo, and a belly like Father Christmas. But the adults are speaking in low voices, and wearing Pretend faces. They are threatening to give Jake to strangers. Since Jake is white and Leon is not.
As Leon struggles to cope with his anger, certain things can still make him smile - like Curly Wurlys, riding his bike fast downhill, burying his hands deep in the soil, hanging out with Tufty (who reminds him of his dad), and stealing enough coins so that one day he can rescue Jake and his mum.

Henry said he was drawn to de Waal’s story because “there are so many young people out there that need their voice to be heard – perhaps Leon’s story will give them the courage to speak”.

de Waal said “When I heard Lenny Henry was doing the audiobook, I crept into the recording studio to listen. He wasn’t only pitch perfect but I realised just from the way he spoke that he got it, he understood what was going on for Leon. So when he told me he was interested in bringing Leon to the screen I was absolutely delighted. There is no-one better to bring Leon to life.”

Buy the book here in Australia and here in the UK.

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