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The Lion & the Mouse [Hardcover]

Jerry Pinkney
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Sept. 1 2009
In award-winning artist Jerry Pinkney's wordless adaptation of one of Aesop's most beloved fables, an unlikely pair learn that no act of kindness is ever wasted. After a ferocious lion spares a cowering mouse that he'd planned to eat, the mouse later comes to his rescue, freeing him from a poacher's trap. With vivid depictions of the landscape of the African Serengeti and expressively-drawn characters, Pinkney makes this a truly special retelling, and his stunning pictures speak volumes.

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Review

* "Pinkney enriches this classic tale of friendship with another universal theme - family - affectingly illustrated in several scenes as well as in the back endpapers... African species grace splendid panoramas that balance the many finely detailed, closeup images of the protagonists. Pinkney has no need for words; his art speaks eloquently for itself."—Publishers Weekly, starred review

* "A nearly wordless exploration of Aesop's fable of symbiotic mercy that is nothing short of masterful... Unimpeachable."—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* "Pinkney's luminous art, rendered in watercolor and colored pencil, suggests a natural harmony... The ambiguity that results from the lack of words in this version allows for a slower, subtle, and ultimately more satisfying read. Moments of humor and affection complement the drama. A classic tale from a consummate artist."—School Library Journal, starred review

* "By retelling Aesop's fable entirely in his signature pencil and watercolor art, Pinkney encourages closer exploration of the pleasing detail with which he amplifies it... It will be a challenge for libraries to make every gorgeous surface available, but it's a challenge worth taking on."—The Horn Book, starred review

About the Author

Jerry Pinkney is one of the most heralded children's book illustrators of all time. He has the rare distinction of being the recipient of five Caldecott Honors and the winner of the 2010 Caldecott medal for The Lion and the Mouse, and has since created two companion picture books: The Tortoise & the Hare and The Grasshopper & the Ants. He has won the Coretta Scott King Award five times, the Coretta Scott King Honor four times, and has been nominated for the prestigious Hans Christian Anderson Award. He was also the first children's book illustrator elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. He lives with his wife, author Gloria Jean Pinkney, in Croton-on-Hudson, New York. The artist invites you to visit his website at jerrypinkneystudio.com.

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Most helpful customer reviews
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WHAT A LION! WHAT A MOUSE! WHAT AN ARTIST! Sept. 9 2009
By Gail Cooke TOP 50 REVIEWER
Format:Hardcover
This particular Aesop fable is familiar to most - the story of a wee, insignificant mouse who happens to disturb a lion. Well, of course, the little mouse is a mere tidbit for the lion. Nonetheless, this magnificent king of the jungle decides to let the little fellow go.

Later, the lion is entrapped by poachers and the little mouse remembers the lion's kindness and manages to set the lion free. There is so much to be learned from this fable and there are many different interpretations of the story. This wordless version by noted artist Jerry Pinkney is remarkable not only for the beauty of Pinkney's work but because it allows the reader or in this case story teller to offer a different narrative each time the book is shown. One never tires of looking at the artist's stunning full page paintings, and young listeners don't tire of hearing the story over and over again, each time with a slightly different twist.

The mantel at Pinkney's home must sag with the numerous awards he has received - four New York Times Best Illustrated Awards, five Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Awards, etc. All so richly deserved. Since I've no trophy to offer I merely send thanks for one more beautifully illustrated book that will become a part of our permanent collection.

- Gail Cooke
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5.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyed this! May 24 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
My students enjoyed this. They are familiar with the story line, however, just looking at the illustrations made them aware of details.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  162 reviews
198 of 216 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love to eat them mousies. Mousies what I love to eat. Sept. 2 2009
By E. R. Bird - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
How trustworthy do you find a reviewer who loves a particular author's work, praises it regularly, and then reviews that writer's next book with predictable kisses, cheers, and thrown rose petals? I admit that I am usually that exact reviewing type. If I like someone's work, I'm more likely to review that same person in the future. That's just how the game goes. But for once, I think I should point out that a positive review is all the MORE impressive when it comes from someone who not usually a fan of a particular author or illustrator. Take Jerry Pinkney, for example. The bloke has won his own fair share of Caldecott Honors in his day. He is prolific. He has an eye for a good story. But prior to the publication of The Lion and the Mouse I would have to admit that the only picture book of his that I really truly enjoyed was his version of Little Red Riding Hood and even that wasn't one of my favorite books of its year. I say all this not to degrade Mr. Pinkney but to point out that his newest book has a singular ability to do something most artists do not even hope to try for. It is appealing to both die-hard Pinkney fans and the folks who could take him or leave him. Everybody likes this book. It's actually a little weird, but who are we to argue? The Lion and the Mouse takes a classic Aesop tale and spins it into wordless picture book gold. A must have, and a must purchase.

Set against the African Serengeti of Tanzania and Kenya, a single small mouse escapes the claws of a hungry owl, only to find herself trapped within the paw of a huge lion. On a whim, the lion lets the mouse go and then sets about his merry way. Unfortunately, poachers have been putting up traps, and before he knows it the lion is caught and bound in nasty ropes, high above the ground. To his rescue comes the little mouse, and she nibbles the ropes until they give way and free the lion. In her mouth she leaves with one of the knots of rope, which she gives her family of tiny babies at home to play with. On the final endpapers, the lion and his family of cubs prowl with the mouse and her family safely ensconced on the lion's back.

Go into your local library, ask for the Aesop tales, and you'll find a wide variety of takes on the genre. Generally, it is hard to turn a single Aesop fable into a picture book for the simple fact that Aesop's tales are a bit on the short side. That's why you're more likely to either find his book in collections (as in Animal Fables from Aesop as illustrated by Barbara McClintock) or in greatly expanded texts (as in Lousy Rotten Stinkin' Grapes by Margie Palatini). Pinkney's decision to make this book almost entirely wordless is therefore nothing short of inspired. Without words, Pinkney is free to expand his storyline. To show elements and characters that wouldn't deserve a mention in a straight interpretation of the original text. And at forty pages Pinkney hasn't had to skimp on his storytelling either.

Pinkney places his story within the quiet majesty of the Serengeti. Now I'm sure I'm not the only person who, when hearing the title The Lion and the Mouse immediately thinks of the jungle. It doesn't matter how many times you tell me that lions don't live in the jungle. Certain stories have been so battered into my brain that it will take books like Pinkney's do undo the mental imagery there. Pinkney has also given himself over entirely to the Serengeti landscape. Each animal has been meticulously researched and rendered here. On a first read I was skeptical as to whether or not the owl featured in the book would actually exist in this African landscape. The answer? Yep. It would indeed. Pinkney has researched this puppy out the wazoo, and the result is a book that fairly pops with accuracy.

Mouse feet. I have a strange appreciation for any artist who can accurately portray well-proportioned mouse feet. Mice do not have attractive feet. They are long and pink with their toes all scrunched on one end and their heels too far away to look good on the other. So while I am sure that most folks will be ooing and cooing over Pinkney's depiction of the lion in all his mane-y goodness, I'm all about the mouse and her footsies. And from time to time I did also wonder about scale. There's a wonderful moment when the mouse pauses on the lion's tail, unaware that she is close to a new predator. Next to her three ants walk the length of a single piece of grass, even smaller than the mouse herself. Later you see the mouse and her family on the back of the lion, and they seem a bit big, but it's not overly jarring. I doubt a kid would care two cents about whether or not the mouse is always in direct proportion to the lion, but it's worth noting anyway.

According to the publication page, "The full-color artwork for this book has been prepared using pencil, watercolor, and colored pencils on paper." And within that medium, and without becoming cartoonish, Pinkney gives characters expressions but keeps them well within the realm of realism. The mouse can go from terrified to delighted and still look like a real mouse. And the lion's expression when the mouse finds him in the net? If cats feel shame, the big cats must sometimes feel big time shame. Other choices made in the book are worth noting. The white poachers, for example, have their faces obscured when they appear to set up the trap that will snare the lion. In doing so they take on the faceless void of villainy, without the artist having to render them cartoonish in their badness.

There are words in this book, but they tend to be onomatopoetic. The "who who whoooo" of an owl or the tiny terrified squeak of the mouse when caught by the lion. In the scene where the lion is lifted off the Serengeti floor no sound is made. You just see the wide-open mouth and rolling eyes. It isn't until you turn the page that the "RRROAARRRRRRRRRRR" appears at the top of a two-page spread. Below the sound, four panels show the mouse scurrying to the rescue below. This use of panels gives the already near silent book a kind of silent movie feel. Like a graphic novel, The Lion and the Mouse finds use for panels, white space, timing and inserts of dialogue, such as it is. It is able to use the best of both the comic world and the picture book world. One minute you're limited to panels. The next you turn the page and here's a double spread, full-color, lush and gorgeous. Pinkney has expanded his medium with this book and the payoff is evident.

As a children's librarian, sometimes I find wordless picture books a hard sell to parents. Kids are often willing to dig them, but for a parent a wordless book means a lot of interaction with their child, and some folks are squeamish about poring over a single title for too long. The nice thing about The Lion and the Mouse is that it hooks you from the cover onward. Heck, I suspect that there's many a parent that will completely miss the fact that the book even is wordless until they've gotten more than halfway in, so compelling is Pinkney's visual storytelling. It's been a while since an Aesop fable had this many people talking about it. Worth the buzz. Worth the hype. Worthy.
43 of 45 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WHAT A LION! WHAT A MOUSE! WHAT AN ARTIST! Sept. 8 2009
By Gail Cooke - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This particular Aesop fable is familiar to most - the story of a wee, insignificant mouse who happens to disturb a lion. Well, of course, the little mouse is a mere tidbit for the lion. Nonetheless, this magnificent king of the jungle decides to let the little fellow go.

Later, the lion is entrapped by poachers and the little mouse remembers the lion's kindness and manages to set the lion free. There is so much to be learned from this fable and there are many different interpretations of the story. This wordless version by noted artist Jerry Pinkney is remarkable not only for the beauty of Pinkney's work but because it allows the reader or in this case story teller to offer a different narrative each time the book is shown. One never tires of looking at the artist's stunning full page paintings, and young listeners don't tire of hearing the story over and over again, each time with a slightly different twist.

The mantel at Pinkney's home must sag with the numerous awards he has received - four New York Times Best Illustrated Awards, five Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Awards, etc. All so richly deserved. Since I've no trophy to offer I merely send thanks for one more beautifully illustrated book that will become a part of our permanent collection.

- Gail Cooke
30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Visual Feast Sept. 20 2009
By Mary Kate - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Pencil, watercolor and colored pencils on paper...

That's all that was used to create the new children's book, The Lion & The Mouse. But those simple tools were being wielded in the hands of Jerry Pinkney and that, apparently, was enough. The magical combination of the artist and his skill, of tool and medium has resulted in a masterpiece of beauty and creativity.

Because this retelling of Aesop's fable is presented here with almost no words, it will challenge parents, teachers and others doing the "reading" to find words worthy of doing justice to Pinkney's art. It's just that gorgeous.

I've never encountered Pinkney's work previously and am now looking forward to discovering what other wonders have come from his hands and to collecting and sharing them.

And though it goes against all my beliefs as to how a book should be treated, I'm considering purchasing an additional copy solely to snag the dust jacket and have the cover art matted and framed. I simply can't take my eyes off it!

Highly recommended!
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This beautifully illustrated and practically wordless tale illustrates the kindheartedness that creatures show to one another! Dec 10 2009
By D. Fowler - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The African countryside was teeming with life. A pair of red-necked ostriches and a family of zebras leisurely stood in the grass while a giraffe family loped through the grass in the background. An eland and her fawn watched a baboon stroll by with her baby on her back. An African water buffalo stared at a lion family while the elephants trumpeted in the distance. When night rolled around and the moon rose all was quiet and a mouse came out of her rock den to look over the landscape. When the light was out an owl came swooping down to catch her and she narrowly escaped her clutches, but ended up in the lion's. "GRRR."

He teased her a bit and when he let her loose she ran back to her babies. "Squeak, squeak, squeak . . . " The proud lion roamed the grasses, but elsewhere some poachers began to set a rope trap, hopefully to catch him. He wandered into a wooded area where the baboons and crows watched him. The trap was weighted and when he stepped on the trap . . . whoosh! He was pulled up and he roared in anger and fear. "RRROAARRRRRRRRR! The little mouse heard him and quickly ran to help him. "Scratch, scratch." Would such a little creature be able to free the king of the jungle?

This beautifully illustrated and practically wordless tale illustrates the kindheartedness that one creature can show to another, despite differences. It is directly patterned after Aesop's fable, "The Lion and the Mouse." This is the type of wordless tale that can be retold by any adult to a young child from his or her own perspective. Each person can say what the fable of the lion and the mouse means to them in their own life. This gorgeous book is so sweepingly beautiful that few people would want to pass it up for their personal library!
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful pictures but not that fun for my 3-year-old Feb. 6 2011
By Tammy R. Nelson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Sat down to read this to my 3-year-old only to find there was nothing to read. It's a beautifully illustrated book with a few animal sounds as words. The child can tell the story by following the pictures but it didn't really grab my 3-year-old much.
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