Publishers Weekly - Publisher's WeeklyThe universal language of art helps bridge the communication gap between a bird and the king of beasts in Kleven's ( Abuela ; Ernst ) latest picture book. When the bird notices the lion's bushy green tail, it piques her curiosity. The appendage, in fact, changes color daily, a phenomenon that exasperates the bird until she becomes privy to the secret: the lion has painted a sweeping mural inside his cave, using his tail as a brush. Though Kleven's vibrant combination of watercolor and mixed-media collage is a tasty visual smorgasbord, her insubstantial story lacks drama. Rather than incite wonder, the bird's questions grow increasingly annoying by mid-story. Children may find a challenge in guessing what color the lion's tail will be, as each consecutive spread provides a hint about the forthcoming transformation. The illustrations' intricate details--nesting birds, leaping frogs, flitting butterflies--add sparkle to scenes already resplendent with bold color and texture. Regrettably, the lustrous art does little to energize a plodding tale. Ages 3-7. (May)
Children's Literature - Susie WildeFor children that are ready for a real story, author-illustrator Kleven's The Lion and the Little Red Bird starts simply. A red bird wonders at how a lion's tail changes color. She observes and marvels until the smiling lion rescues the shivering bird from a storm. Once inside his cave, she chirps happily amid his glowing art and the lion delights to the sound of her song. Kleven's art is brilliant collage that changes mood with her plot and exposes deep meaning without belaboring the point.
School Library Journal - School Library JournalK-Gr 2-- A sweet and captivating book with gorgeous illustrations. Its story line and artwork both have unusual and unexpected qualities that work together to generate a magical, light mood. A little bird and a lion, friends although they don't understand one another's language, are inexplicably happy when they're together. The bird loves the sight of the lion's tail, which changes color daily. When the lion brings the bird into his cave, she understands the changes; the lion uses his tail as a paint brush for creating beautiful murals. In light of this knowledge, she sings her happiest song for him as their friendship deepens. Kleven's collages incorporate pastels, ink, paper, and wool. Their beautiful colors, surprising textures, and striking details give emotion and meaning to the story. She is especially successful in depicting the lion's gentleness and in suggesting the feelings that bond these two, which provides the power behind the story and fuel for readers' interest. A unique and worthwhile contribution to any collection. --Dorothy Houlihan, formerly at White Plains Public Library, NY
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