Wednesday, February 13, 2013

The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

The Lion and the Mouse


Pinkney, Jerry. 2009. The Lion and the Mouse.  New York, NY: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. ISBN 978-0-316-01356-7


In this exquisitely illustrated book, award winner Jerry Pinkney recounts the Aesop’s classic tale of The Lion and the Mouse. An unfortunate mouse accidentally happens upon a lion.  In a reversal of fortune, the lion decides to release the mouse without causing any harm.  When hunters later trap the lion with a large net, the mouse returns to offer assistance.  The mouse chews through the net constraining the lion and subsequently frees him from the hunters’ assault. After this encounter, the lion and the mouse gaze at each other with an understanding that friendship can be found in the most unlikely of places.

The plot is a reminder that the manner in which we treat others is how we will be treated in return.  One should always be kind to others as you never know when you will require their kindness.


In addition to winning the Coretta Scott King award five times, and being awarded five Caldecott Honor Medals, Pinkney was also nominated for the Hans Christian Anderson Award. His classic illustration style is evident throughout the book.  His ability to capture expressions in the faces of his animal characters allow him to depend solely on the illustrations for storyline and plot development.

The book lacks any substantial narrative, which allows the young reader to fully engage in the illustrations.  While some may view the lack of text as a detraction, the illustrations have the full ability to chronicle the story in its entirety.  The setting is clearly set in the jungle and the hunters’ intrusion in the animals’ space is succinctly felt through the illustrations of the net intended for ensnaring the lion.

While it is unclear what prompted the lion to release the mouse at their first confrontation, the mouse is able to return to its offspring.  When the mouse returns to assist the lion, the reader intuitively comprehends the character growth of the mouse and its need to repay the lion’s earlier favor.  Once the lion is free and he is able to gaze into the mouse’s face, there is an absolute acceptance for both that their actions contributed to their continued freedom and safety.

The moral of the story will be clear to even the youngest of readers.  When kindness is sowed upon others, it will be received in full at a later time.  Even the youngest of toddlers and preschoolers will understand that we should be kind to others and they will, in turn, be kind to you.

Caldecott Medal Winner 2010

New York Times Best Illustrated Book 2009

ALA Notable Children Book 2010

Horn Books Awards Honor Book 2010

A School Library Top 100 Picture Books #37

Parent’s Choice Gold Award Winner 2009

Starred Review in Kirkus Review: “A nearly wordless exploration of Aesop’s fable of symbiotic mercy that is nothing short of masterful.”

Starred Review in Publishers Weekly:  Pinkney has no need for words; his art speaks eloquently for itself.”

Starred Review in School Library Journal: "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.”

Booklist:Pinkney’s soft, multihued strokes make everything in the jungle seem alive….”


*A book that demonstrates the importance of family and friendships, even in the most unlikely of places.

*Other books written and illustrated by Jerry Pinkney:

Puss in Boots. ISBN 978-0-8037-1642-1

Aesop’s Fables.  ISBN 978-1-58717-000-3

The Little Red Hen.  ISBN 978-0-8037-2935-3

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