A Hungry Lion by Lucy Ruth Cummins

A Hungry Lion by Lucy Ruth Cummins

A Hungry Lion, or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Cummins (InfoSoup)

There was once a hungry lion in a room in a large number of small animals like a penguin, a pig, a could of bunnies, a mouse, a frog, a bat and many more, including a turtle. But as you turn the pages, more and more animals no longer appear on the page. Soon there is only the pig, a bunny and the turtle. Then only the turtle. Then just the lion and then after looking right at the reader, the lion leaves too and everything goes dark. What do you think happens next?!

Reminiscent of Jon Klassen’s classic I Want My Hat Back, this picture book has a delightful darkness about it. Even better, it toys with that darkness, allowing readers to think all is well right before plunging them right back into it again. It’s rather like a picture book roller coaster ride that will have readers demanding to ride again immediately. Cummins paces the book cleverly, filling it with a sense of impending doom.

The art adds to the emotional twists and turns. Readers can watch the lion’s face for clues, since at times he is far too innocent to actually not have done something wrong. Other times, he appears completely villainous with arched brows and big teeth. Yet all along, things may not be as they seem adding to the delicious tickles of dread.

Dark and delightful, this picture book is one wild ride worth sharing. Appropriate for ages 4-6.

Reviewed from copy received from Atheneum Books for Young Readers.