Friday, May 4, 2012

The Lion and the Mouse

The Lion and the Mouse
Jerry Pinkney
Little Brown, 2009
$16.99, Hardcover
February 13th, 2012

Genre: Folklore
Age: 1+
Description: In this wordless retelling of an Aesop fable set in the African Serengeti, an adventuresome mouse proves that even a small creature is capable of great deeds when she rescues the King of the Jungle. Winner of the Caldecott medal.
Opinion: The illustrations of this wordless picture book have so many different layers to them. One of the first things I noticed about the pictures was that they had an abstract sense to them that adults would probably see, such as the rocks and trees on the first page with the mouse. There are no real defined lines in the art but one can tell that the rocks are rocks and the trees are trees. So while they aren’t clearly defined young children will still be able to see what shapes they are meant to be seeing. Second, there is a bit of an I-Spy feel to some of the pictures that will entertain young children. For example, when the mouse runs from the owl and ends up clinging to the lion’s back children will take delight in making out the lion’s brown fur hidden among the tall yellow grass and they’ll like the fact that they know something the mouse doesn’t know. Lastly, while every animal in the pictures are depicted in a very realistic way, there is also a sense of anthropomorphizing the animals’ facial features in a comical way. When the lion first finds the mouse and holds him in his huge paws his face seems to say “Well, you are too small for a meal.” When the mouse comes to the rescue the look on the lion’s face is all, “What? You? Save me? What can you possibly do?” The animals’ facial expressions give words to the wordless story. There is an extra page-long author’s note at the end of the book. It explains why Pickney always loved the fable. It was sparse and that’s why he decided to go wordless. He felt that the tale and characters provided a “sense of family and setting” enriching the story further. The full-color artwork was prepared with pencil, watercolor, and colored pencils on paper. 

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