The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

39222408Lynn: Jerry Pinkney’s splendid new book, The Lion and the Mouse (Little, Brown, Sept. 2009) may be wordless but anyone who reads it will be using a lot of words such as gorgeous, stunning, evocative, and Caldecott. This adaptation of the familiar Aesop fable clearly proves that storytelling with both power and nuance can be achieved using illustrations alone. Pinkney utilizes every facet brilliantly from perfect page turns, to inspired page design. The changing perspectives are ideally chosen to heighten each scene and we literally gasped at the dramatic two page spreads that reach out from the book.

I brought home a stack of picture books from ALA and this is the one our focus group picked up immediately. (Oh that amazing cover!) At first they wanted me to tell them the story. I resisted and asked them to tell ME the story as we looked at the pictures. And what a story they told me! The boys saw so much and we read it over and over again. Each time the story was a little different and each time we found some new treasure in the pictures. This is illustrated storytelling at its finest.

lion-and-mouse-2Cindy: I had planned to link to an online Aesop site with the Lion and Mouse story to help readers, but Lynn’s approach makes more sense. Much better to let children tell the story and listen to them flesh it out from the bare bones fable using Pinkney’s incredible art to guide them. Also, I was so busy admiring the gorgeous dust jacket that I might have missed the alternate art printed on the book cover underneath. The twins found that when Lynn took the paper jacket off while reading with them. What a gorgeous book design from head to toe. I love the addition of mama mouse’s family to the story. I was even more relieved when the lion spared her, discovering that she had babies depending on her and even more proud of mouse when she bravely risked returning to help lion before passing on the lessons to her young. “Pay it forward” never looked so good.

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees.

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