Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Mouse and Lion

While perusing my favorite independent bookstore, I found a beautiful rendition of Aesop's fable of the lion and the mouse entitled Mouse and Lion written by Rand Burkert and illustrated by Nancy Ekholm Burkert.  Jerry Pinkney won the Caldecott in 2009 for his rendition - The Lion and the Mouse - a nearly wordless picture book depicting the traditional story.  The illustrations are breathtaking.  Even coming on the heels of this Caldecott winner, Mouse and Lion is fantastic.

Mouse and Lion tells the story largely from the viewpoint of the mouse - hence the switch in the order of the names.  The text tells of a brave Mouse - who climbs mountains and fights blades of grass.  The Lion is prideful but amused by the small - and clearly not brave - Mouse so he lets him free.  When the Mouse ultimately saves the Lion his bravery is celebrated and the Lion's viewpoint of the world is changed.

The illustrations match the text in detail and description.  The muted colors and detailed illustrations bring to life the Mouse and his bravery - both in standing up to and saving the Lion.  Nancy Ekholm Burkert's illustrations could tell the story on their own - but the addition of the text makes the story even stronger.

At the end of the book Rand Burkert writes, "In most productions of this fable, Lion's name appears first on the marquee.  It is not clear why this should be, when Mouse clearly performs the lion's share of the work."  This book certainly celebrates Mouse in Aesop's well known tale.

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