This oversized book about a bored young lion who visits Paris to find “a job, love and a future” is worth every bit of paper and ink.
The book opens vertically, with sparse, large-type text on each top page and complex artwork below. The sturdiness of the paper allows young hands to turn pages repeatedly and to pore over each carefully rendered illustration, a lion’s share of mixed media that includes architectural renderings of Parisian hot spots, tiny photographs of people and, on every page, the large protagonist, sporting a huge bushlike mane and a great variety of engagingly human expressions. As the lion roams Paris, he is unhappy about the lack of attention he draws, even when he roars. He hits rock bottom when a rainstorm turns him “grey and shiny like the roofs around him.” But urban apathy eventually subsides, and love comes in the form of a young girl’s adoring eyes, which follow him. (Only the youngest of viewers will lose the joke: That lover is the Mona Lisa.) The lion soon finds his job and his future, with vocabulary that refuses to condescend: A plinth in the middle of a square offers him his perfect vocation. Children will feel more sophisticated than the lion, who makes such mistakes as confusing baguettes with swords.
The lion atop the Eiffel Tower, mane blowing in the wind, captures the essence of this artful, whimsical delight. (Picture book. 3-8)