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If I Were a Lion

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I'm sitting in the time-out chair because my mother put me there. She said, "You try my patience, child! I do not like it when you're wild."
Who me?
That is so ...

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I'm sitting in the time-out chair because my mother put me there. She said, "You try my patience, child! I do not like it when you're wild."
Who me?
That is so absurd.
How could she even use that word?
If I were a lion.
I'd growl and roar
And knock the dishes on the floor...
AND if I were a bear...
If I Were a Lion is a book for every child who's ever been sent to the time-out chair — unjustly...or otherwise!

A little girl pleas her innocence from her time-out chair by contrasting her behavior with that of wild and ferocious animals.

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Editorial Reviews

From The Critics
"Wild? Who me?" asks an impish girl who is exiled to the time-out chair. There, she compares her behavior with that of the truly untamed: "Am I howling? Do I bark? Rummage through the trash at dark?" Howling dogs and a bear gnawing on a sofa cushion make the narrator seem not quite so beastly after all. Solomon's mixed-media illustrations have a high level of energy that perfectly suits the book's unruly menagerie. (Ages 4 to 6)
Child magazine's Best Children's Book Awards 2004
Publishers Weekly
"I'm sitting in my time-out chair/ because my mother/ put me there," pouts a girl with a mop of red hair and garden-gnome features. Her mother sweeps cold cereal from the floor: "You try my/ patience, child!/ I do not like it/ when you're/ wild." In Weeks's (Angel Face) impish verse, the girl goes on to imagine the misdeeds of animals who really are wild: "If I were a lion,/ I'd growl and roar/ and knock the dishes/ on the floor." Solomon's (Clever Beatrice) bold gouaches incorporate computer-altered snips of animal fur and scales; sharp textures, layers of purple, jade and putty-colored wash jostle one another and the animal subjects for visual attention. In a succession of high-voltage spreads and vignettes, frogs zap flies from the dollhouse boudoir, raccoons get treed in the hat rack by alligators, and mountain goats come to eat the curtains. The redheaded narrator isn't in the least intimidated by the menagerie that appears before her; she claps her hands and howls along with the wolves, then shoves all the creatures into the toy box and greets her mother with a sweet smile. "Mother doesn't realize/ that lions don't apologize./ But when she does,/ then she will see,/ the opposite of wild is... me," she ends, with a treacly smile. While the girl's rebellion serves chiefly as a vehicle for Solomon's trippy, beguiling paintings, the punchy verse and wealth of visual detail will stand up to repeated readings. Ages 3-7. (Mar.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Our rambunctious heroine begins her tale from her seat in the time-out chair, "because my mother put me there." Her mother has told her she does not like it when she's wild. Our indignant rhyming narrator calls that "absurd." If she were a lion, for example, or a bear, or other such creatures she would indeed do dreadful, wild things. But after a list of what "wild" really is, she assures us that "the opposite or wild" The humor comes partly from the imaginary actions of the wild creatures she dreams up, but mostly from the visualizations. They are in large, double-page scenes in which watercolors and gouache create remarkably inventive surreal arrangements of animals, toys, and household objects. Above all, of course, is our real live adorable redhead whose cheeks you just want to pinch. Her face spills over with delight at times, or in wolf howls or mock horror when a lion roars. Do not miss her sample drawings on the walls. 2004, Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing Division, Ages 3 to 7.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1-When a young girl is sent to a time-out chair, she defends herself by asking, "Wild?/Who me?" With wide-eyed innocence, she proclaims: "Wild has feathers./Wild has scales./Wild has whiskers, tusks, and tails./Wild is furry./Wild is strong./Wild does not know/right from wrong." As she describes each characteristic, unruly animals take over the kitchen and living room-snorting, charging, and growling as they break dishes, overturn furniture, and create messes. The narrator seems to be surprised by their antics, but the gleam in her eye makes it obvious that she's not as innocent as she appears. So who created the havoc-the animals or this "meek and mild" child? Sharp-eyed readers will enjoy spotting the toys being blamed for the disasters; the endpapers, with numerous stuffed animals strewn haphazardly across them, provide another clue. Solomon adds to the humor by giving the youngster oversized features that make her appear cartoonlike, but with a painterly touch just shy of realistic. Splashes of salt resist on each page form a soft patterned background for the carpeting. An interesting combination of gouache brush strokes scattered over watercolor washes captures the texture of fur and feathers. Pair this book with Maurice Sendak's Where the Wild Things Are (HarperCollins, 1988) for another protagonist whose imagination runs rampant when he's confined, and to create a storytime that will grab the attention of children who have been placed in a time-out.-Laurie Edwards, West Shore School District, Camp Hill, PA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A little red-haired girl defends herself against her mother's accusation of wildness in a very inventive way. With her round face just this side of caricature, she protests being in the time-out chair in the rhymed text. "Wild? / Who me? / That's so absurd. / How could she even use that word?" While one might wonder what this little tyke is doing using words like that (and "precocious," later on), we listen as she describes kinds of wild: like a lion, breaking dishes and scaring the cat; greeting visitors with outstretched tongue like a frog; rummaging through the garbage like a coyote. In each case, the animal in question, in fine, full frenzy, appears in the picture frame of a perfectly normal house, wreaking the described havoc in gorgeous pinks, lavenders, and aquas. In the end, she's pushed them all into a box that she, in the time-out chair, is sitting on, as apt a metaphor for controlling one's behavior as can be envisioned. Tremendous read-aloud possibilities. (Picture book. 5-8)
From the Publisher
"Sarah Weeks's rambunctious angel in If I Were a Lion will have readers roaring with laughter. Parents should love reading it too, as it's bound to evoke memories of their own childhood antics. Heather Solomon's wonderfully textured creatures make you want to touch each one of them." — Betsy Lewin, Caldecott Honor-winning illustrator of Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689848360
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 3/1/2004
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 801,920
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Lexile: AD290L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.90 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 0.60 (d)

Meet the Author

Sarah Weeks has written many books for children, including If I Were a Lion, Paper Parade, Angel Face, So B. It, and Two eggs, please. She lives in New York City. When Sarah can't get to sleep, she goes through the alphabet in her head, trying to think of people she knew in elementary school whose names begin with each letter.

Heather M. Solomon was named a Publishers Weekly Flying Start for Clever Beatrice, winner of the Charlotte Zolotow Award. She is also the illustrator of Clever Beatrice and the Best Little Pony by Margaret Willey and If I Were a Lion by Sarah Weeks. She lives in New Mexico with her husband, daughter, and son, who especially love to share joyous secrets.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 4, 2010

    I Also Recommend:

    deja vu

    I have three redheads, all girls. This book embodies my middle child. The antics she gets into and the language that is used is my daughter all the way. This is our favorite book together and one of my all time favorites. I would recommend getting and reading this book with your child, especially if you have one who is a little challenging! (in a good way)

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  • Posted October 31, 2008

    more from this reviewer


    I work with children and this is one of my favorite books. If you have a child, I do suggest that you pass by and check this book out. I promise it's worth it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

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