A picture is worth a thousand words. There is no better expression to describe Jerry Pinkney’s latest children’s book, The Lion and the Mouse. Winner of the prestigious Caldecott Medal for 2010, The Lion and the Mouse is a beautiful and practically wordless retelling of the classic Aesop’s fable.
The Caldecott Medal is awarded annually to one children’s book based on the illustrative depiction of a story. The cover alone of this magnificent work will convince you that the book is worthy of this recognition.
For those of you unfamiliar with the story, The Lion and the Mouse is a classic tale about the unusual friendship these two creatures form. Set in the African Serengeti, a tiny mouse escapes the grip of a hungry owl but lands in the paws of a ferocious lion. The lion inexplicably lets the mouse go, but in time she returns the favor by chewing through the ropes of a trap and sets the lion free. The unlikely bond between these very different animals is one that can be appreciated by children and adults alike.
But the story alone, no matter how remarkable, is not what makes this book so magnificent. The gripping illustrations, done in watercolor and colored pencils, will have you pouring over every detail. Pinkney’s animals are both realistic and expressive, an important yet difficult feat given the scope of their emotions throughout the book.
The sparse text, really just animal noises, allows the reader to focus on the amazing illustrations. Words would be nothing more than a distraction in this story that is so masterfully told through pictures.
The Lion and the Mouse would make a wonderful gift for children of every age. The pictures offer something for everyone and the story itself is a gentle reminder that friendships come in every shape and size.