How To Hide A Lion At Christmas (Helen Stephens)

Hello, friends! Our book today is How To Hide A Lion At Christmas by Helen Stephens, a sweet tale of friendship at the holidays.

Iris has a rather unusual best friend: the friendly lion who lives with her and her family. The two are inseparable, which means they are saddened to hear that when the family goes to visit her Auntie Sarah in another town, the lion must stay behind; though the gentle giant is a popular figure in their hometown, Iris’s parents fear the lion will scare the people on the train and of the town in which they’re staying. Seeing that Iris is broken-hearted to leave him (and missing his friend), the lion decides to follow the family, sneaking onto the train and hiding in the overhead luggage. As the train rumbles through snowy hills, the lion is lulled into a peaceful sleep… only to wake in an empty trainyard with no idea of where he is! Can he find his way back to his friend in time for Christmas?

Adorable. While the story doesn’t provide a lot of exposition as to why Iris’s family has a pet lion (being a sequel to Stephens’s How To Hide A Lion), it’s not really needed; the warm and endearing illustrations immediately establish the love between little Iris and her large pet. What follows is a delightful story with a few gentle misadventures, a happy ending, and even a cute cameo from Santa, all unfolding with a sort of holiday magic that makes it immensely lovable. The length was great for a Christmas storytime, and JJ really enjoyed this one, especially the lion’s harmless antics. A fun holiday read for little ones, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

(Note: A copy of this book was provided to The Baby Bookworm by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)

A Lion In Paris (Beatrice Alemagna)

Hello, friends! Our book today is A Lion In Paris by Beatrice Alemagna, a strange and beautiful journey through the city of light.

A young lion, bored with life on the savannah, catches a train into Paris to find work, love, and a new future for himself. Expecting to draw the attention of all the people of Paris as he walks down the busy streets, he is dismayed to find that they pay him little mind, even when he lets out a mighty roar. And while he marvels at the strange sights, sounds, and denizens of the bustling city, he is disillusioned to be so ignored and alone. Strolling through the Louvre, however, he meets a girl (in a familiar painting) who watches him pass and smiles mysteriously, and it buoys his spirits. Even better, he finds a stone platform (plinth) in the center of a traffic roundabout, where he can be seen and admired all day. Finding his place in Paris, he decides to stay.

Sweet, silly, and visually wonderful. While the story is a twist on a classic – namely, finding one’s place in a new situation – this provides the perfect foundation for the unique and daring art, which features the lovable lion (whose odd-yet-sweetly humanoid features allow for a great deal of emotional expression) and some delightfully detailed mixed-media spreads of Paris. The Eiffel Tower, Sacré-Cœur, the Seine, and more all feature in Lion’s wanderings, populated with a diverse collection of hand-drawn and clip-art humans and media. There are some sweet moments, and a lovely ending (the lion is based on an actual statue in Place Denfert-Rochereau). The length is great, and JJ loved the lion’s adventures as well as the kid-friendly large format. This was an unusual treat, and we loved it – Baby Bookworm approved!

The Lion Inside (Rachel Bright)

Hello, friends! Our book today is The Lion Inside, written by Rachel Bright and illustrated by Jim Field, a charming tale of finding one’s courage.

In the middle of an African plain, there is a very tall rock. At the very bottom of the towering landmark, there is a teeny tiny house, where lives the meekest little brown mouse. The poor mouse is so small, he often gets overlooked, excluded, even stepped on. It’s a lonely life, and he wishes he could be more like his neighbor on top of the rock – the boss lion. Because of the lion’s strength, leadership, and mighty roar, all the animals respect and admire him, especially the little mouse. One night, the mouse has an epiphany: perhaps, if he had a mighty roar of his own, he could get the attention of the other animals. He would still be a mouse, but perhaps the others would realize he was there and include him in their social circles. However, he realizes that the best one – the ONLY one – who can teach him this skill is the boss lion himself! Gathering his courage, Mouse sets up to the top of the rock, but will his quest be met with success? Or will he end up as – gulp! – a lion’s snack?

Very cute. The story does a good job of setting up the mouse’s struggles, especially that his aim in learning to roar is simply to be noticed and included – an understandable wish. The twist, in which we find that the lion is terrified of mice, is clever – the mouse is friendly and he and the lion become fast friends. It’s a good way of illustrating that everyone is afraid of something, and that our courage can often be found in our kindness. The illustrations are bright and energetic, with great character design and dynamic angles. The length was good, and JJ loved it! A sweet and encouraging tale, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Caring For Your Lion (Tammi Sauer)

Hello, friends! Today’s book is Caring For Your Lion, written by Tammi Sauer and illustrated by Troy Cummings, a hilarious and sweet instructional picture book on the care and feeding of an unexpected pet lion.

When the Pet Delivery service arrives, a young boy is surprised to find that, instead of the kitten he ordered, he has been shipped a pet lion instead. Thankfully, a very helpful instruction manual has been included with the unexpected (and enormous) pet, filled with tips (such as, try not to look like a zebra. Or a gazelle. Or a bunny) and diagrams (such as how to make the lion sneeze you out in case you are accidentally eaten). And though having a lion for a pet comes with plenty of frustrations, the boy finds that once they get to know each other, the lion just may be the perfect pet for him.

This was a wonderfully silly book with a great narrative style and some fantastically funny art. The instruction-book-style text makes for amusingly droll comedy, playing the enthusiastic step-by-step instructions off the sharp and witty visual gags of the 60’s cartoon-inspired art. The illustrations themselves are colorful and clever, making the kind of expressive and absurd jokes that kids of all ages can enjoy. The length is great, and JJ and I really enjoyed this one. A funny, wacky story to chuckle over together, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!

Lionheart (Richard Collingridge)

Hello, everyone! Today, we read Lionheart by Richard Collingridge, a gorgeously illustrated and wonderfully dreamlike story about finding courage, both from one’s friends and within oneself.

Richard is in his bedroom one night with his best friend, his stuffed Lionheart, when he first sees it. But it can’t be real – monsters aren’t truly real… are they? Frightened, Richard flees into the night, losing Lionheart along the way, and running so far that he comes upon a magical jungle. There, he finds Lionheart again, only his beloved stuffed friend is much, MUCH bigger. The monster is still on his tail – can Lionheart help Richard find the courage that lies within him?

We LOVED this book. First, the art is jaw-droppingly beautiful, and transports the reader to the places and emotions that dwell within us all: the cold and dark twisted forests of fear, the sun-warmed and windy mountainsides of triumph, and everything in between. No less fantastic is the story, a fable that weaves together the surreality of a child’s imagination with a down-to-earth story about our capacity for bravery and where it can truly be found. Paired together, the art and text make each page of the story feel epic. The length is great, and JJ adored it. This one is a knockout, we heartily recommend it, and it’s Baby Bookworm approved!