________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 17. . . .January 4, 2013


The Lion and the Mouse. (Tadpoles Tales).

Diane Marwood, reteller. Illustrated by Anni Axworthy.
St. Catharines, ON: Crabtree, 2012.
24 pp., pbk. & hc., $7.95 (pbk.), $18.36 (RLB.).
ISBN 978-0-7787-7905-6 (pbk.), ISBN 978-0-7787-7893-6 (RLB.).

Subject Headings:
Lions-Juvenile literature.
Mice-Juvenile literature.

Preschool-grade 1 / Ages 4-6.

Review by Jillian Sexton.

** /4



“How can a tiny mouse help me?” laughed Lion. But he let Mouse go.


Diane Marwood’s The Lion and the Mouse is a retelling of Aesop’s well-known fable of the same name. Little Mouse wakes sleeping Lion, much to Lion’s annoyance. Lion is about to gobble up Mouse for his dinner when Mouse begs him to stop, adding that he may be of some assistance to Lion in the future. Lion concedes and lets Mouse free. Shortly after, Lion finds himself trapped in a net, unable to free himself. Suddenly, Mouse appears and rescues Lion by chewing through the net and releasing him. Lion is grateful, and the two become unlikely friends.

     The problem with Marwood’s book is that the rendition I’ve written above is abundantly more interesting than her retelling of the tale. While the language and pace makes the narrative accessible for early readers, nothing else about her story makes it anything more than a dull addition to an already fantastic canon of Aesop reimaginings.

     The Lion and the Mouse is also equipped with unnecessary games and information that feels like a last-minute tack on to the story. In the front pages (a section of the book that is rarely noticed by young readers, let alone adults), there is a thought bubble explaining the purpose of fables and then encouraging children to find the lesson in the story. In the end pages, there is a section with advice for adult readers on how to read this specific book – and others more generally – to early readers. It feels awkward and ill-placed. The Lion and the Mouse also comes equipped with two games: a word match with four adjectives and a puzzle to put six images in order. These extras are underwhelming to say the least, and thus unnecessary.

     The real accomplishment of this storybook is Anni Axworthy’s illustrations. The renditions of Lion and Mouse are whimsical and cartoon-like while still having an air of realism. The images are bright, fun, and eye-catching; they complement the text perfectly, and perhaps might even tell the story without it.

Recommended with reservations.

Jillian Sexton has a B.A. (Hons) from Memorial University and is working on her MA in Communication from Carleton University. She currently lives in Ottawa, ON.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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