A little girl named Iris proves herself smarter than the grown-ups around her as she secretly cares for a lion she knows to be kind—a lion who eventually saves the town from burglary.
All the lion wants as he strolls into town is to purchase a hat, but he soon finds himself fleeing from terrified, broom-and–rolling-pin–armed townspeople (one of whom brandishes a loaf of bread). Iris recognizes his gentleness, but it isn’t easy to hide him. And parents “can be funny about having a lion in the house.” A series of hilarious pictures, reminiscent of the energetic watercolor art of Ludwig Bemelmans and H.A. Rey, vividly demonstrates that the lion is too big, too fluffy and too heavy for easy camouflage. A magnificent double-page spread of Iris with an open book, leaning against the napping lion, recalls the pet Zeep picture in Dr. Seuss’ One Fish Two Fish: Both are pictures of deep contentment. After the lion saves the town, his one request to the grateful citizens takes the story full circle. The pages are sturdy, and the endpapers offer entertaining sketches of Iris and her enormous feline friend.
As a book with a strong and gentle animal hero and fetching illustrations, this can stand proudly on a shelf with such classics as Crictor, The Story of Ferdinand and, of course, Andy and the Lion. (Picture book. 3-7)