A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that The Lion & the Mouse, which won the 2011 Caldecott Medal, is a beautifully illustrated version of Aesop's fable that's wordless, aside from the onomatopoeic sounds of the animals. Grown-ups who are unfamiliar with the fable may want to revisit it before reading this with their children.
What's the story?
This is a visual retelling of the classic Aesop fable: A lion, awakened by a mouse climbing over him, catches the tiny animal in his mighty paw. The mouse appeals for mercy and the lion relents. Soon after, the lion is captured in a poacher's net. The mouse hears his anguished roars and comes to his aid, gnawing the ropes until the great creature is freed.
Is it any good?
Parents might expect the lack of text would make this an easy read -- but far from it. Readers are challenged to get involved in the story, to linger and explore each scene of this sumptuous book from acclaimed artist Jerry Pinkney. His illustrations, luminous in earthy golden tones, capture extraordinary nuance and expression in the mouse and the lion. The cover alone is arresting: Filling the front is the lion, looking a bit surprised as he glances to the left; flip the book over and there’s the mouse, in enlarged perspective, facing the lion with a friendly and fearless countenance.
Pinkney treats both the king of the jungle and the humble mouse with respect and affection. These are wild creatures, communicating with growls and squeaks, anxiously tensed bodies and fiercely snapping jaws. They are portrayed as adversaries, momentary friends, leaders of their families, and part of the diverse community in the Serengeti. In Pinkney's hands, this simple fable takes on new depth.
Full-page, expressive illustrations in watercolor and pencil are captivating.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about kindness. Why does the lion release the mouse? Does he expect anything in return?
How do you think the lion feels when the mouse arrives to free him?
The mouse and the lion are very different animals. In this story, in what ways are they similar?
Before you supply the narrative for each spread, ask your child what she thinks is happening in the story. After you've read it together, encourage your child to take a turn "reading" it out loud to you.
- Author: Jerry Pinkney
- Illustrator: Jerry Pinkney
- Genre: Friendship
- Topics: Cats, Dogs, and Mice, Friendship, Wild Animals
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
- Publication date: September 1, 2009
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 4 - 8
- Number of pages: 40
- Award: Caldecott Medal and Honors
- Last updated: March 11, 2020
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