Gentle, black-and-white pencil drawings mirror the hushed reverence of this haunting retelling of a well-known Aesop's fable. Just a few lines evoke the lion's command of his forest kingdom and build a sense of foreboding (``[The mouse] stayed, still as stone, his tiny heart beating with the memory of the lion's roar. He crouched, silent as rock, until the shadow of the lion's paw had passed''). Alternating with full-page illustrations, clusters of several small sketches focus frame by frame on one particular moment-the lion's roar, encroaching hunters or the mouse gnawing at the ropes that trap the lion. The effect is dynamic, providing the visual rhythms often missing from monochromatic art. Gossamer soft in its drawings and text, this book is nevertheless animated enough to capture the attention of the very young. All ages. (Oct.)
In this retelling of the Aesop fable of the same name, Watts creates in text and illustration an "uncluttered" picture book version of the fable. She uses simple text, detailed illustrations in soft natural colors, and lots of white space to make the book appealing to younger readers. Preschool "readers" are able to focus on the story and illustrations and ask that it be read again. They enjoy identifying the animals, birds, and insects that Watts includes in the illustrations. Because of the detailed illustrations, the book is best read to individual children or very small groups. The expressions on the faces of the creatures are "childlike" and show the wonderment of exploration. Although the art is the strong attraction of the story, it can also put limitations on the audience. By the age of six, children would find the book too simplistic and childlike. The book is highly recommended for preschool collections. 2000, North-South, Ages 2 to 5, $15.95. Reviewer: Jenny B. (J. B.) Petty
PreS-Gr 2-A gentle picture-book retelling with a slightly different twist. In this version, the main characters first meet when the lion is a young cub. Years pass and the "king of the beasts" is trapped by a hunter's net and ultimately freed by the same mouse. The other details of this familiar fable remain the same, but Watts's illustrations enlarge the setting to include a fanciful African Lion King landscape dotted with meerkats, leopards, baboons, and giraffes. The text is strong with short, descriptive sentences and an effective use of repetition. The palette in the full-spread art reflects the mix of the jungle and desert landscapes depicted: pastel greens alternating with arid browns, yellows, and touches of orange. The illustrations draw upon realistic details for trees and plants yet maintain a cartoonlike sensibility for the animals. Overall, the impression created is one of passivity; there is little drama or action. While this particular adaptation has some weaknesses, it should be a useful addition to storytimes and folklore collections.-Denise Anton Wright, Alliance Library System, Bloomington, IL Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.