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THE LION AND THE MOUSE

Page history last edited by RichiesPicks 10 years, 4 months ago

Richie's Picks: THE LION AND THE MOUSE by Jerry Pinkney, Little Brown, September 2009, 40p., ISBN: 978-0-316-01356-7

 

"Would I be talkin' to a stone

If I asked you

To share a problem that's not your own?

We can change things if we start giving.

Why don't you

Reach out and touch somebody's hand

Make this world a better place

If you can."

-- Diana Ross, written by Ashford & Simpson

 

"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." -- Aesop

 

THE LION AND THE MOUSE is an unusual picture book because Jerry Pinkney -- inspired by living next to a nature preserve with its "vast medley of sounds" -- has retold the beloved Aesop tale of the lion and the mouse wordlessly through his pencil and watercolor illustrations, but has then included in those illustrations the sounds of the lion, the mouse, the poacher's jeep, and the owl (who sets the story in motion by scaring mama mouse who, in turn, runs up the lion's camouflaged back and is caught).

In Pinkney's pictorial retelling, it appears a random act of kindness when the lion leaves mama mouse unscathed and she scurries home to her teensy mouse babies.

 

"Whoa oh what I want to know,

Is are you kind?"

-- Hunter/Garcia

 

Mama mouse is a real show-stealer. Rather than one or two illustrations of the mouse freeing the lion from the poacher's thick-rope trap, we are treated to a fifteen-frame superhero-like action sequence through which mama mouse sits up and sniffs, sensing what has taken place, scurries over and stands (on the rope) eye to eye with the entangled lion, and then "scratch scratch" proceeds to methodically leap from section to section and chew open the ropes. As the lion is freed and is falling to the ground, landing on his back, mama mouse almost appears to be giving him a subtle thumbs-up. The pair then pause and look at one another, before mama mouse grabs up a clump of knotted rope and scurries home, dragging the rope knot along, clearly to become both a plaything and a teaching tool for her young ones who, we can imagine, might someday participate in their own lion-and-mouse tale.

Jerry Pinkney sets THE LION AND THE MOUSE, as he explains, "...in the African Serengeti of Tanzania and Kenya, with its wide horizon and abundant wildlife so awesome yet fragile..." In the course of the story readers are treated to glimpses of everything from small ants and dragonflies to grand elephants and giraffes. (Be sure to check out the cover which has paintings which are entirely different from the images on the dust jacket.)

 

THE LION AND THE MOUSE is a truly distinguished picture book which one can literally stare at for hours -- as I can tell you from recent experience.

 

Richie Partington, MLIS

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