From the moment you see the dust jacket of The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney, you know you are in for something special. As you can see from the photo on the right, there are no words, just a fascinating portrait of a lion. When you look at the actual cover of The Lion and the Mouse, you'll notice that the title is not presented in words but in the portraits of a lion and a mouse connected by a large ampersand. (Click on "More Images" on the right to see it). Jerry Pinkney's adaptation of one of Aesop's fables as a wordless picture book is a stunning picture book.
The Lion and the Mouse - An Extraordinary Wordless Picture Book
This adaptation of the Aesop's fable about the lion and the mouse, a kindness offered and a kindness repaid, despite enormous differences between the two creatures, is told completely with artwork rather than words and pictures as is most common in picture books. In fact, the only words and letters you'll find in the book are embedded in the artwork and represent sounds. They include the "who, who, whoo" and "screech" of the night owl, the "grrr" of the lion, the "squeak" of the mouse and the "putt-putt-putt" of the hunters' jeep. Jerry Pinkney’s stunning illustrations are rendred in pencil, watercolor, and colored pencil on paper.
In the Artist's Note at the end of the book, Jerry Pinkney states,
"As a child I was inspired to see the majestic king of the jungle saved by the determination and hard work of a humble rodent; as an adult I've come to appreciate how both animals are equally large at heart: the courageous mouse and the lion who must rise above his beastly nature to set his small prey free."
Because of the quality of the artwork and the amazing number of details in each single and double-page spread, this is a book you and your children will enjoy sharing with one another more than once. The changing expressions and body language of the lion and the mouse, the lion's initial response to the mouse, the mouse's family and the other animals in the jungle, the trapping of the lion and the mouse's determined efforts to free him - all will capture your attention again and again.
Award-Winning Artist Jerry Pinkney, Now Also a Caldecott Medal Winner
Jerry Pinkney is one of my favorite children's book illustrators as I mentioned in my article about Jerry Pinkney
. His body of work has tended to focus on multicultural and African American themes, although not exclusively. He's been honored with numerous awards for his children's book illustrations, including Caldecott honors and the Coretta Scott King Book Awards. As the 2010 Caldecott Medal winner for The Lion and the Mouse
, Jerry Pinkney has earned the most prestigious award for children's book illustration in the United States.
Among my other favorite children's picture books illustrated by Jerry Pinkney are Patricia McKissack's Goin' Someplace Special, Aesop's Fables, Hans Christian Andersen's The Ugly Duckling, Valerie Flournoy's The Patchwork Quilt and Julius Lester's John Henry, but there are many more.
The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney: My Recommendation
I highly recommend The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney for all ages. Jerry Pinkney’s illustrations, which so beautifully tell the story in The Lion and the Mouse, make this wordless picture book one the entire family can enjoy as they share and retell the fable, using Pinkney’s artwork as their guide. (Little, Brown and Company, 2009. ISBN: 9780316013567)