Review Blog

Sep 10 2012

In the lion by James Foley

cover image

Walker Books, 2012. ISBN 9781 921720 32 1.
(Ages: 3+) Highly recommended. Picture book. Zoos. From the open mouthed lion on the front cover to the lion's tail swishing the key to its cage on the end paper, this is a treat for all.
A boy and his family go to the zoo, and the lad watches as several people enter the lion's cage, each to preform a task. The dentist with his long toothbrush, the hairdresser with her giant comb, the chef and the zookeeper, all disappear, while the lion's tummy gets to be enormous. A number of nearby animals also disappear, the walrus, a flamingo, two spider monkeys and an armadillo! That is until the lad takes charge, and using the toothbrush as a lever is able to get them all out.
A lovely tale told in the form of The old lady who swallowed a fly, with each succeeding sentence reprising all that has gone before, younger readers and even younger listeners will love to add to the refrain as it swings across the next page. They will laugh with delight at predicting the next line, and at the antics of the animal in question and the part played by the visiting boy.
Graphite drawings and digital colour are wonderfully used in the illustrations, with bright bold colours and minutely detailed animals and patrons covering all the pages. This is a funny book from start to finish and sharp eyed readers will see a lot more in the illustrations. The naughty twins of the dedication seem to be the crying twins in the book, but they will please the eye of the readers when perusing the range of patrons visiting the zoo that day.
The title begs the reader to add 'den' or 'mouth', and the story could be paired with many other zoo picture books, as well as the old favourite poem, The lion and Albert (there is a wonderful rendition of the poem on Youtube), or the tale of Daniel in the lion's den, or the Aesop fable of The Lion and the mouse.
Fran Knight

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