A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Some information about lions and their behavior: how they move, what they eat, how they stalk prey, and what their prey is (including antelope, muskrats, sloths). Lots of lettered signage, posters, menus, diplomas, and dials in the art encourage kids to read beyond the printed text. Concept and definition of "diploma." Reinforces counting, as the lessons are in "7 Easy Steps" laid out in the course of the story.
If you want to study and learn something, you might find lessons to help you. It's fun to study animals and their behavior. If at first you don't succeed, keep trying and you will see progress.
Positive Role Models
The boy has a goal -- earning a "Lion Diploma" -- and he works until he achieves it. He follows his interests, finding a place that offers the lessons he's interested in, apprenticing himself to an expert, listening to instruction, and trying his best to follow it. Though at first he's not very good at what he tries, he persists and improves with practice.
Violence & Scariness
When the boy's instructed to pounce on a lady and protests, "But I'll scare her to death," the lion replies, "Uh, that's the idea." When the instruction is "Choosing What to Eat," a large menu displays pictures of animals that serve as prey for lions, including antelope, muskrats, sloths, and so on.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Lion Lessons is a funny foray into the wacky world of specialty lessons, where a boy who wants to earn a "Lion Diploma" enrolls in a course taught by an actual lion and learns lion behavior in "7 Easy Steps." Author-illustrator Jon Agee (It's Only Stanley) is a master of picture book humor and absurd, silly fun, and the book can inspire readers themselves to pounce like a lion, bare their claws, and roar. Embedded in the humor is some actual information about lion behavior, and though the fun far outweighs the fear, parents might be aware that there's mention of stalking other animals as prey and a comment, lightly delivered, that when you pounce on prey you might scare it to death, but "that's the idea."
Is It Any Good?
This fun romp examines what it might be like for a young boy to apprentice himself to an actual lion in order to mimic and master ferocious lion behavior. In the opening pages, the boy walks past shop windows advertising karate, Spanish, violin, yoga, and knitting lessons, which will feel both familiar and amusing to contemporary kids enrolled in a host of extracurricular classes. There's some actual information about lion behavior that goes down easily in the offbeat format, and lots of signs and posters in the print-rich art can help inspire kids to learn to read.
Author-illustrator Jon Agee is a pro, seasoned and silly, and this book is perfect for those who like their animal information delivered with a demented dash of fun.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.