Novelist Toni Morrison joins her son Slade and illustrator Pascal Lemaitre for a lively interpretation of one of Aesops better known fables. The trio, who last teamed up for The Book of Mean People
, gives the blustery lion a chance to redeem himself after being fallen by a thorn--and lets readers see what happens when the mouse that rescues him lets his good deed go to his head. The moral of the story? "Listen up!/ Listen up!/ No ifs, maybes, ands, or buts./ The biggest bully in the land/ Does what he likes, takes what he can.../ ...believes the sizes of boots and paws/ are all you need to make the laws./ But strong or weak, big or small,/ A giant or an elf.../ Is he who wants to be a bully/ Just scared to be himself?" Hip kids will nod their heads to the beat of the lions strut, and chuckle at Lemaitres cartoon-framed illustrations. Hip grownups will let young readers mull over the Morrisons (and Aesops) message about bullying at their own pace. (All ages) --Emilie Coulter
From School Library Journal
Grade 2-5-The Morrisons extend Aesop's "Lion and the Mouse" into a hip-hop-cadenced meditation on bullying, with some role reversal. "LISTEN UP! LISTEN UP! NO IFS, MAYBES, ANDS, OR BUTS. CAN!" So roars Lion, until felled by a thorn, and Mouse squeaks a similar line, after putting Lion back on his feet. Outraged when all of the other animals only laugh, Mouse proceeds to pester Lion with complaints, until the larger animal quietly departs, leaving his house and throne to his erstwhile rescuer. Lematre decks Lion out in a robe, places him in natural settings-except when the scene moves indoors-and supplies hand-lettered text and dialogue to go with the cartoon panels. After leaving Lion sitting alone asking, "Is he who wants to be a bully just scared to be himself?" the artist then closes with a puzzlingly disconnected sequence of frames involving the mouse, Lion's throne, and a buglike creature. Morrison's celebrity status may sell the book, but this patchy, illogical episode isn't likely to sell many readers on its lesson.John Peters, New York Public Library
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