The Lion and the Mouse

The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

In this almost wordless book, readers revisit Aesop’s tale of the lion who spares the life of a mouse only in turn to be rescued by the mouse.  The only words on the page are animal noises that bring the African setting to life.  Readers follow the mouse right into the lion’s paws, sigh in relief at the release, and will be riveted as the capture of the lion plays out. 

Pinkney shows readers the world in focused images, revealing the view of the land the mouse has, the perspective of the lion, and foreshadowing the capture of the lion in the poacher’s net.  Each image is beautifully done, filled with details that bring the story to life and invite you to linger over them.  His pacing is done with such skill that he can create suspense with a single page turn.  From the moment of opening the cover, readers are in the hands of a master story teller who speaks through his art.

One of the best wordless picture books I have ever read, this book should be on every library’s shelf.  And with that cover, it is not going to sit there long!  Make sure you face this one out!

Reviewed from copy received from publisher.  Copy will be placed in library collection.

Also reviewed by Collecting Children’s Books, 100 Scope Notes, A Patchwork of Books, Pink Me, and Fuse #8.

Star of the Week

Star of the Week: a story of love, adoption, and brownies with sprinkles by Darlene Friedman, illustrated by Roger Roth

It is Cassidy-Li’s turn to be star of the week in her Kindergarten class.  She and her mom are making brownies with sprinkles and she also has to make a poster about herself.  As she looks through photographs, Cassidy-Li’s history as an adopted baby from China is told.  Her parents holding her in China, the first person to meet her at the airport, her cousins, her best friends, and her pets.  But she doesn’t have any pictures of her birth parents, so there is a hole in her poster.  She fixes it by drawing a picture of these people she has never met.  She is nervous about her poster and about answering questions about her adoption.  But by the end of the day, she realizes that she really is a star.

The beauty of this book is that Cassidy-Li is a wonderfully normal kid with the same sort of worries that others have about their star week.  And yet she has a unique background, multicultural friends, connections to China, and a more complicated story to tell.  Friedman does a great job in balancing the two, creating a character who is unique but universal.  The story is told in very brief prose, with the illustrations telling a lot of the tale too.  Roth’s pictures also create a bridge between Cassidy-Li’s special background and her being a regular American kid. 

Recommended for all families, this book is about connections, understanding, and being special.  Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from library copy.

Also reviewed by A Year of Reading and A Patchwork of Books.