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Richie's Picks: THE LION AND THE MOUSE by  Jerry Pinkney, Little Brown, 
September 2009, 40p., ISBN:  978-0-316-01356-7  

"Would I be talkin' to a stone
If I asked you
To share a problem that's not your own?
We can change things if we start giving.
Why don't you
Reach out and touch somebody's hand
Make this world a better place
If you can."
-- Diana Ross, written by Ashford & Simpson
"No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted." --  Aesop
THE LION AND THE MOUSE is an unusual picture book because  Jerry Pinkney -- 
inspired by living next to a nature preserve with its  "vast medley of 
sounds" -- has retold the beloved Aesop  tale of the lion and the mouse 
wordlessly through his pencil and  watercolor illustrations, but has then included 
in those illustrations  the sounds of the lion, the mouse, the poacher's 
jeep, and the owl  (who sets the story in motion by scaring mama mouse who, in 
turn, runs up the  lion's camouflaged back and is caught). 
In Pinkney's pictorial retelling, it appears a random act  of kindness when 
the lion leaves mama mouse unscathed  and she scurries home to her teensy 
mouse  babies.  
"Whoa oh what I want to know,
Is are you kind?"
-- Hunter/Garcia
Mama mouse is a real show-stealer.  Rather than one or  two illustrations 
of the mouse freeing the lion from the poacher's thick-rope  trap, we are 
treated to a fifteen-frame superhero-like action sequence through  which mama 
mouse sits up and sniffs, sensing what has taken place, scurries over  and 
stands (on the rope) eye to eye with the entangled lion, and then "scratch  
scratch" proceeds to methodically leap from section to section and chew open 
the  ropes.  As the lion is freed and is falling to the ground, landing on  
his back, mama mouse almost appears to be giving him a subtle  thumbs-up.  
The pair then pause and look at one another, before mama mouse  grabs up a 
clump of knotted rope and scurries home, dragging the rope  knot along, clearly 
to become both a plaything and a teaching tool for  her young ones who, we 
can imagine, might someday participate in their own  lion-and-mouse tale.
Jerry Pinkney sets THE LION AND THE MOUSE, as he explains,  " the 
African Serengeti of Tanzania and Kenya, with its wide horizon and  abundant 
wildlife so awesome yet fragile..."  In the course of the story  readers are 
treated to glimpses of everything from small ants and  dragonflies to grand 
elephants and giraffes.  (Be sure to check out the  cover which has paintings 
which are entirely different from the  images on the dust jacket.)  
THE LION AND THE MOUSE is a truly distinguished picture  book which one can 
literally stare at for hours -- as I can tell you from recent  experience.  

Richie  Partington, MLIS
Richie's Picks 
Moderator,  _ 
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