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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Lion, written by Miriam Busch and illustrated by Larry Day. Balzer + Bray, Harper. 2014. $21.99 ages 4 and up

"How about seeds?


Well, then.



What a terrific book by this wife-husband team! Readers and listeners will have to make a concerted effort to keep their attention on every detail, at every turn of the page, to fully grasp the humor and great delight of its witty storyline.

We meet the main characters on the title page, and know right then and there a little bit about who they are. The forbidding lion peers from behind a three story house at a young and resolute boy who is on his way somewhere, armed with a flashlight. The opening line is 'Lion!' It is echoed (in much smaller font) by the boy's mouse companion. The lion is confused when told that the boy is looking for Lion. Hasn't he already found him? The lion informs that he is 'looking for lunch'.

Unconcerned, the young man makes some logical suggestions...grass? mushroom? berries? Each is refused. It is here where astute observers will begin to chuckle...and you will, too. The lion remains persnickety about every food suggested, and finally offers up the fact that feathers make him sneeze. Aha! That may be the solution to the boy's dilemma. Hastily, he enlists the help of a nectar-seeking hummingbird.

The boy, the bird and the ever-present mouse set out to see if they can make the lion sneeze. Only then do we know the reason! Sly plotting and a surprise ending are sure to demand additional readings. I will admit that my first run-through did not do it justice...only when I went back and took a very close look did I recognize how truly appealing the whole thing is!

The art is done in watercolor, gouache, Wolff pencil and pencil. The images and details (along with clues given) match the book's back and forth dialogue. Expressions change, as do perspectives, and all ensure that this will be a favorite new story with many young listeners.

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