Since I also wrote about Pinkney's Little Match Girl today, I decided to give a separate entry to his latest book, The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney.
This book is a popular favorite for the Caldecott next month at the ALA Midwinter Meeting. The cynic in me then thinks this one won't win but I have better luck predicting Caldecotts than Newbery winners, so I will stay hopeful.
This is a wordless picture book, telling the familiar fable through imagery, and has been receiving starred reviews from pretty much every major review source. I agree it is lovely and plan to add it to my own library, sooner rather than later. A first edition is nice especially if it does win the Caldecott gold, but even if just wins the honor silver, I will be satisfied. I think.
Review from School Library Journal:
Starred Review. PreSchool-Grade 3—This story starts on the cover with the glorious, golden countenance of a lion. No text is necessary to communicate the title: the direction of the beast's gaze and the conflicted expression on his tightly cropped face compel readers to turn the book over, where a mouse, almost filling the vertical space, glances back. The endpapers and artist's note place these creatures among the animal families of the African Serengeti. Each spread contributes something new in this nearly wordless narrative, including the title opening, on which the watchful rodent pauses, resting in one of the large footprints that marches across the gutter. In some scenes, Pinkney's luminous art, rendered in watercolor and colored pencil, suggests a natural harmony, as when the cool blues of the sky are mirrored in the rocks and acacia tree. In other compositions, a cream-colored background focuses attention on the exquisitely detailed and nuanced forms of the two main characters. Varied perspectives and the judicious use of panels create interest and indicate time. Sounds are used sparingly and purposefully—an owl's hoot to hint at offstage danger or an anguished roar to alert the mouse of the lion's entrapment. Contrast this version with Pinkney's traditional treatment of the same story (complete with moral) in Aesop's Fables (North-South, 2000). The ambiguity that results from the lack of words in this version allows for a slower, subtle, and ultimately more satisfying read. Moments of humor and affection complement the drama. A classic tale from a consummate artist.—Wendy Lukehart, Washington DC Public Library
More fairy tales from Jerry Pinkney while we're on the topic: