By Jerry Pinkney
Little Brown and Company, 2009
Caldecott Medal Winner
Award-winning illustrator Jerry Pinkney tells us the story of the lion and the mouse through his loose drawings done with pencil, watercolor, and colored pencils on paper. The masterful lion’s head fills the front cover, yet he is watching something. We turn over the book and find a mouse watching him. We already know we are in for a treat.
We open with the mouse, running for her life from her predators. She unknowingly happens upon the lion, who idly picks her up by her tail. They seem to have a discussion, and then the mouse is let go. The mouse scampers home to her babies and the lion struts around to be noticed. We then see men arrive with a large net. The net captures the lion, hoisting him up into the trees. The beast roars, fighting to get out. The mouse hears the call and knows the lion is in trouble. She runs to see if she can help. She decides she can gnaw through the rope. We can see the humiliation and gratitude on the beast’s face of being saved by a tiny mouse. The mouse works away, until at last the lion falls to the ground. The lion thanks the mouse, and she runs off with a rope knot, evidence of her encounter. Her children play with the knot as a toy, while the mother looks on, knowing they have no idea what she just experienced.
Jerry captures every emotion of the mouse and lion, telling the story on many levels. Each picture requires a study to soak in the messages shared. This wordless book invites you to study each expression, each landscape to take in Jerry’s rich story.