A Chinese import that has nothing to do with The Wizard of Oz despite its title asks, will friendship help banish fear?
Telulu is a big, strong, male lion. Even though he looks bold and fierce and quite capable of taking care of himself, though, he is afraid of everything. If a leaf falls nearby, it scares him. One day a tiger simply glances at Telulu, sending the lion off running. As he runs, his body shrinks to the size of a leopard. When a leopard scares him, Telulu shrinks to the size of a wildcat as he flees. He ends up the size of a mouse. Even the mouse scares him, of course, but he scares the mouse as well, and the two become friends. When a wildcat threatens the mouse, Telulu defends his new buddy and grows back to normal size. They still get scared, but they have each other. Prolific Chinese children’s author and teacher Bingbo has won multiple awards in his native land. His tale of friendship conquering fear is undercut by the jokey finish, when Telulu shrinks back to the size of his mouse friend when the two are scared by another leaf. But collections looking to expand international offerings could do worse, though there is nothing notably specific to the culture of China in the story or illustrations. Zhou’s glowing, soft-edged, full-bleed illustrations are on par with the text.
Sweet but not entirely successful. (Picture book. 3-7)