Review: How to Hide a Lion by Helen Stephens

how to hide a lion

How to Hide a Lion by Helen Stephens

Oh my, what a charmer of a book!  It is the story of a lion who comes to town to buy a hat.  But the people in town are afraid of him and chase him away.  He runs off to hide in a yard under a dog house where he is discovered by a little girl named Iris.  Iris immediately recognizes that he is a kind lion and invites him into her house.  They did their best to keep him hidden and Iris took good care of him by brushing his mane and putting a bandage on his hurt foot.  They also had a lot of fun, but that’s when they would almost be discovered.  A lion bouncing on a bed makes a lot of noise!  When Iris’ mother discovered the lion, the lion ran off.  He hid with the stone lions in front of the Town Hall.  While he was there, he saw two burglars leaving the Hall.  After the lion saves the day, everyone in town realizes what a kind lion he actually is and present him with… a hat.

Stephens has created a picture book that has a simple appeal.  The growing friendship between the lion and the little girl is done in a very organic and natural way.  Humor is sprinkled throughout as the little girl attempts to hide the lion.  Stephens also makes sure that even though the lion is kind, he is still completely a lion and an animal.  The two main characters are wonderfully different and make for compelling characters especially when paired.

The art in the book reads as vintage with their bright color washes.  The lines of the drawings are done with a light hand and are nicely simple.  This is a book that would be right at home next to Lyle Crocodile.  It reads immediately as a classic and hopefully will become one!

Too clever to be called sweet, this book is warm and friendly.  A perfect book to share with your big cat at home or to curl up like a lion and listen to.  Appropriate for ages 3-5.

Reviewed from copy received from Henry Holt and Co.

Review: Monster on the Hill by Rob Harrell

monster on the hill

Monster on the Hill by Rob Harrell

In 1860s England, each little town has its own monster that terrorizes its population.  And they love it!  In fact, there is money to be made if your town has a popular monster.  It brings in tourism and you can sell merchandise too.  However, the monster at Stoker-on-Avon was not a popular monster.  He barely left his cave anymore, sulking on the hill above the town.  Rayburn was one depressed monster.  It is up to Dr. Charles Wilkie, an inventor whose workshop was shut down by the town and who is willing to do almost anything to get it back, and Timothy, a street urchin who snuck along, to get Rayburn back in fighting spirit again.  This graphic novel is packed with new friends, old pals, big battles, and amazing monsters. 

Harrell took this graphic novel quickly out of any stereotypical themes very quickly by having the populations appreciate their monsters so thoroughly.  The mix of delight and monsters is great fun, adding a real unexpected twist to the story.  Rayburn is a wonderful character with a gloomy perspective that plays nicely off of the enthusiasm of the human characters.

Harrell’s art is filled with color and dynamic movement.  He brilliantly captures monster battles and is equally successful at creating friendship bonds between characters.  The art welcomes children to enter the world of the book, where they will find a great mashup of modern art and humor with a historical fantasy setting.

Fun, vivid and filled with action, this graphic novel will prove popular in every library.  Appropriate for ages 8-12.

Reviewed from library copy.