From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 1–Matthew has nothing to share for show-and-tell, so he informs his class that a lion is living at his house. Everyone believes him, and this initial lie spawns many others, as the boy must answer questions about his pet's daily activities and invent fresh excuses as to why no one can come to see it. Eventually Matthew confesses the situation to his mother, who tells him he must be honest with his classmates. The boy puts all his stories into a book and explains to the children that the lion was only real in his head, an explanation they readily accept. The idea that all of the students would have believed him in the first place strains credulity, as does the fact that his deceptions would be so easily forgiven. However, the story could spark discussions about the value of honesty and facing up to bad decisions. Cravath's chalk pastel and acrylic illustrations have a pleasant hazinesss appropriate to the theme of fantasy blending into reality. Evaline Ness's Sam, Bangs and Moonshine
(Holt, 1966) is a stronger book, but this one would be a useful addition for larger collections.–Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ
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This story will resonate with the many kids who have gotten in over their heads. Matthew has nothing for show-and-tell, so this pops out of his mouth: "I have a lion." The class is impressed, and Matthew starts to embellish: a baby lion named Larry. Before long, he can actually see Larry, and each day the class becomes more inquisitive, and the tale grows ever taller. Matthew decides that perhaps it's time to send Larry to the zoo, which induces the class to clamor for a field trip to Matthew's house before Larry leaves. Matthew's understanding mother applauds her son's imagination, but tells him he needs to be honest--so Matthew writes and draws the story of Larry and uses it at show-and-tell. Though the kids are upset at first, they appreciate the excellent storytelling and crave more. Abercrombie's simple, heartfelt tale gets a boost from the imaginative, wonderfully child-friendly artwork featuring huggable Larry. The illustrations have the look of kids' own pictures, with colors as bright as the ending is happy. Ilene CooperCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved