A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
The diverse wildlife of the Serengeti figures prominently in this tale. Readers will become familiar with different animals as well as their onomatopoeic sounds. They may also learn that every animal in the wild, whether big or small, has a large role to play in the overall functioning of the wildlife setting.
The classic moral resounds here: No act of kindness is ever wasted. There's also a lesson on humility, respect, and selflessness as the two characters find themselves acting against what is usually expected of their kind. The tiny mouse proves the error of underestimating someone based on appearances.
Positive Role Models
The lion reins in his wild instincts and makes a better, more civilized choice when he lets the mouse go. He certainly doesn't expect to be repaid for his generosity. The brave and confident mouse is a wonderful example of the worthiness of repaying kindness. Both characters prove to have big hearts as they learn the value of humility, selflessness, and forgiveness from one another.
Violence & Scariness
The lion is no gentle kitty: He snarls and growls when he first captures the mouse, then roars in fury when caught up in the poachers' net.
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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.
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.
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