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Lion and the Mouse Children's Book Review
Children's Book by Jerry Pinkney
book by Jerry Pinkney
This is a lovely, "silent" adaptation of Aesop's famous fable of the lion and the mouse in which a lion catches a fleeing mouse. Rather than kill and eat the mouse, as lions are prone to do, the golden cat has mercy and sets the mouse free. Later, it is the mouse who is able to do the lion a kind turn by freeing him from the rope nets of a hunter that has trapped the lion.
What immediately catches the reader's attention is the cover of the book. Nowhere on the front is there a single word indicating the name or complete subject of the story. Rather, there is simply the golden lion of the tale, with a most curious expression in his eyes. And, appropriate to the story, he is looking towards the back cover, also sans words, where our little mouse is staring intently at his future benefactor. (Author-illustrator Jerry Pinkney explains this powerful juxtaposition in his note at the end of the book.)
Also captivating are the other beautiful watercolor paintings, covering each page which both children and adults will appreciate and admire; the art work Pinkney obviously painted with meticulous care and aesthetic concern. In fact, this is work that Renoir and Matisse might have acclaimed highly, or even envied. Further, it is meticulous in its detail. Looking closely at the work, you will see such minutiae as ants parading along blades of grass, proof positive of the author's love for his work and the subject.
Much like the front and back covers, most pages contain no words, only ideas. The few words included are of the screech and whooing of an owl (which figures prominently in the beginning of the tale and actually gets the whole story rolling). The king of the jungle, being the king, must also introduce a sound, and so growls. That and a bit of onomatopoeia (as where mother mouse chews through pieces of rope) are all of the words presented. For this reason, the book works well as an introduction to books for very small children, as well as deaf children, and anyone highly visually stimulated (which is roughly 6 billion people, at last count).
Like all good writers, Pinkney adds a bit here and there to flesh out the story, heightening the level of interest for the reader -as where we learn that the mouse is protecting not only its own life from the owl, but also that of her babies, for whom she was carrying food. Further, the piece of rope plays into an additional micro-subplot at the end; a point which that great master of Greek Folktales, Aesop, would surely have beamed at with pride.
Finally, there is the watercolor at the end of the tale, featuring the lion, the mouse, and their 2 families. Were it a framed oil painting, it would easily be an object placed on walls and over mantles around the planet for its simple expression: love of nature and family.
For more information on Jerry Pinkney and his work, visit www.jerrypinkneystudio.com