Monday, December 28, 2009

Review #54: The Lion and the Mouse

Dad:  This book is called...
(Silence as everyone looks at the amazing cover)
Gracie (age 9):  It's called "A giant lion face."
Lily (age 6):  It's called "The Lion and the Mouse"!
Gracie:  There's no title!
Isaac (age 11):  Check the first page inside.
Dad:  Tell me about "The Lion and the Mouse."
Gracie:  It was simple.
Isaac:  It's not simple!  It has really good details.
Gracie:  Well, the story is simple.  The pictures are really, really detailed, but the story is simple.
Isaac:  Right.
Gracie:  The story is about a mousie and a lion.  The mousie said to the lion... well, actually it didn't say anything because mice don't talk.
Lily: (singing)  The Lion and the Mouse
  is about a mouse
    who got caught by a lion
      and the lion let him go
  And then....
    The mouse saved the lion
      from a trap
        by chewing the trap open
          La la la - doo doo!
Gracie:  That is so going in our Audio Snippets.
Dad:  Now, how is this version different than other versions of "The Lion and the Mouse"?
Lily:  It has no words.
Dad:  Do you like that or not?
Lily:  I like it.  Because then we get to make up the words.
Gracie:  There were no words in it except for a few.  I think the only words were "roar," "squeak," "whoo-whoo," and "scritch."
Dad:  So, I just read the story a minute ago... but if you had read it, would it have been completely different?  One person might read it in a funny way with lots of jokes.  Another person could make it really suspenseful and exciting.  Or someone could even do a musical version -- like Lily.
Lily:  Yeah!
Gracie:  Ha ha hahh HA ha!
Lily: (Singing)  "Whoooo, whooo... An owl's going to eat me..."  I'm singing it!
Dad:  Gracie, you tell me about the story.
Gracie:  Well a mousie disturbs a lion.  The lion decides to let him go and is like, "Rawr."
Dad:  Do you think the mouse knew what the lion was saying?
Gracie:  Hee hee...  No.
Dad:  What did the mouse say in return?
Gracie:  "Squeak."  Which means, "If you let me go, I'll do a favor for you."
  Then the lion says, "Roar."  Which means, "Okay, but what can a puny, little, squishy mousie do?"
  Then the mouse is like, "Squeak."  Which means, "Well, you never know..."
  Then the lion gets stuck in a trap, and the mouse is like, "Squeak."  Which means, "What happened?"
  Then the lion is like, "Rar."  Which means, "I got stuck in a trap!  Oh no, oh no!  Now I'm gonna die!  I can't get out!  Not even my sharp, sharp claws can cut through the rope!  Oh no!"
  Then the mouse is like, "Squeak."  Which means, "I'm on it!"
  Then the lion is like, "Rawr, rawr, rawr, rawr, rar, rawwwr, rawr, rawr, rawr!"  Which means, "Thanks."
  Then the mouse chews the rope though and says, "Squeak squeak."  Which means "No problem."  The end!
Dad:  Wow.  That was quite an epic telling.
Gracie:  Ha ha ha!
Dad:  I think we just proved that each person who reads this book will read it in a completely different way.
Gracie:  Yeah!
Dad:  This book is made by Jerry Pinkney.  Tell us what his pictures look like.
Lily:  The pictures are very detailed.  I can tell he was trying to make them really realistic.
Isaac:  Is it made with watercolor?  It looks like watercolor.
Dad:  Yep!
Gracie:  I can not paint like that.
Dad:  That would take a lot of practice, huh?
Lily:  Wait.  He did this with watercolor?  How did he do that?
Dad:  Ha ha!  It's amazing, isn't it!
Lily:  He is a good watercolor painter.
Dad:  He's been painting for many, many years.
Gracie:  He is definitely one of the greats.
Dad:  What did we notice about the few times that words do appear in the book?
Gracie:  They are not even typed!  He draws them!
Lily:  Actually he paints them.
Dad:  I love hand lettering in books.  And he even designed different fonts for each of the characters.
Gracie:  Big bold letters for a big bold lion.  And teeny cute letters for a teeny cute mousie.
Dad:  How does he make the lion itself look really big?
Lily:  He made the lion cover up the whole page.
Dad:  And how did he make the mouse look small?
Isaac:  He put him right next to the lion
Dad:  So by contrast... by comparing the two.  What about the times he draws the mouse up close?  How can we still tell he's actually small?
Gracie:  There's usually giant blades of grass.
Lily:  He makes the blades of grass go all the way off the page.
Gracie:  And there's a giant lion tail.
Dad:  So there's still a comparison of scale, even when the lion's not covering up the page.
Isaac:  He uses panels.  Mostly for the mouse.  When it's just the mouse on the page, he puts him in all these little panels.
Dad:  Is it always just for the mouse?  That's a good observation, Isaac.
Isaac:  He used it once for the lion -- when you could only see his feet.
Dad:  Maybe panels are another artistic device to make the mouse look small.
Gracie:  The mice are so cute!
Dad:  What does Mr. Pinkney bring to the story by giving families to the mouse and lion?
Gracie:  It makes you care for them more.  Don't eat him, Mr. Lion!  He's got a family to care for!
Dad:  Now we won't know for a couple weeks yet, but I'm guessing this book will win the big Caldecott medal this year.
Gracie:  It deserves it.
Isaac:  It's so detailed.  It's so cool.
Dad:  Wouldn't it be fun to pick a book for a "Bookie Woogie Award"?  Each year our family could pick our favorite book of the year.
Gracie:  But that might make people jealous, because I would give it to "The Hiccupotamus" 3 years in a row.
Dad:  No... I would definitely be disqualified from winning.
Gracie:  Gasp!  That's like cheating.
Dad:  It's not cheating to take yourself out of the running for your own award.
Gracie:  But dad, do you think libraries would let us put shiny stickers on the books?
Dad:  No no no... we wouldn't do that.  We could just say congratulations and maybe draw the winner a picture or something.
Gracie:  Could we put a shiny sticker on the drawing?
Dad:  Oh, sure.
Gracie:  Woo hoo!
Dad:  The allure of shiny things...
Gracie:  Wait.  Where would we get shiny stickers?
Dad:  This book would definitely be in the running for a 2009 Bookie Woogie Award.  Alright, as we wrap up, is there anything else you want to say?
Kids:  Read the book!  Read the book!
Dad:  How do you read it?
Gracie:  Uh...  I mean...  Look at the book!  Look at the book!

mouse and lion, by Lily

lion, by Gracie

mouse, by Isaac

Author/Illustrator: Jerry Pinkney
Published, 2009: Little, Brown & Co
Like it?  Find it


Carrie said...

This book sounds AMAZING! The way you all described the artwork made me so curious to get my hands on a copy of the book for myself. Thanks for pointing it out for us all and reviewing it!

Hope you had a merry Christmas!

ElizT said...

And that might just be your review of the year.

Heidi Noel said...

My son likes this story, I will have to look for this version. It sounds amazing from your descriptions.

Kirthi said...

I loved this story, and it's so great to hear the what the children have to say! This conversation was wonderful, I was smiling the entire time I was reading this. The pictures are so creative and beautiful!
I love your blog, it's very unique!

Heather said...

I just found your blog, thanks to Heather (your contest winner!) at Secret Adventures of Writer Girl. I love it so much, I think what you and the kids are doing is amazing, and I would love to do it with my kids when I have them! Plus the drawings and comments are so cute, smart, and funny! Thanks for sharing!

Z-Kids said...

Thanks old friends and new! We appreciate the time you take to comment -- it's always encouraging!

And yes, The Lion and the Mouse IS indeed amazing. I'll be quite shocked if it doesn't get a round shiny medal next month...

Jerry Pinkney rocks.


Joan Holub said...

Hello to one of my very favorite blogs. It has been too long.

What a cool book! And I always love seeing the illustrations you do, Gracie, Lily, and Isaac. Hi to your Dad.

Happy 2010, Z-Kids!

Brimful Curiosities said...

It has also made the Cybils finalist list. We've requested a copy and can't wait to see the illustrations.

teacherninja said...

Lovely! Thanks.

Lynn E. Hazen said...

Love this version of The Lion and the Mouse. I read it to 15 preschoolers (or should I say, they TOLD the story/read the pictures to me). They loved it, too. Yes, very deserving of awards. And your 3 young artists deserve shiny medals, too!

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

Love the commentary and the kids' drawings. I am learning to ask more questions as we read too, but we still have years to go :)

GV said...

Amazing review. Excellent job of your kids and you. I didn't expect to find this kind of reviews. I didn't expect that kids of that age have a really good impression of the book. Keep it up the good work.