The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney - Book Review

Randolph Caldecott Medal Winner for Picture Book Illustration

The Lion and the Mouse - book jacket illustration of lion
The Lion and the Mouse, a wordless picture book by Jerry Pinkney. Little, Brown and Company

Summary of The Lion and the Mouse

The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney is a spectacular wordless picture book from start to finish. From the moment you see the book jacket of The Lion and the Mouse, you know you are in for something special. As you can see from the photo, 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.

Jerry Pinkney's adaptation of one of Aesop's fables as a wordless picture book is a stunning picture book that will appeal to both children of all ages and adults.

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 rendered 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. In 2016, Jerry Pinkney received two more major honors: the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, which honored his body of work in children's literature, and the 2016 Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement.

    Some of  my favorite children's picture books illustrated by Jerry Pinkney are Patricia McKissack's , Pinkney's retellings of 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)

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    Your Citation
    Kennedy, Elizabeth. "The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney - Book Review." ThoughtCo, May. 3, 2016, Kennedy, Elizabeth. (2016, May 3). The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney - Book Review. Retrieved from Kennedy, Elizabeth. "The Lion and the Mouse by Jerry Pinkney - Book Review." ThoughtCo. (accessed November 24, 2017).