Buitrago and Yockteng’s latest literary endeavor reconsiders a well-known Aesop fable.
A lion and a mouse live in the woods among other creatures big and small. The mouse, “a busybody and a glutton,” one day decides to enter the lion’s home uninvited. Before the rude guest can leave, the “very lovely” lion seizes him by the tail. The lion threatens the mouse, who would rather not be eaten. (He intends on meeting his girlfriend, after all.) So, the mouse offers to repay the lion someday in exchange for his life. The lion, ever a generous host, laughs off the proposal “as only lions can” but casts the mouse out instead of eating him. Naturally, the lion must swallow his pride the next day after falling prey to a hunter’s trap. At first, the lion doesn’t recognize the mouse “because all mice looked alike to him” (a telling detail), but the mouse nonetheless frees the frightened feline from an unfortunate fate. Up until now, the story beats remain the same as Aesop’s as Buitrago weaves this familiar tale, lacing it through with enough peculiar details to build strong personalities for the lion and the mouse. The author, however, continues the story and moves beyond the well-worn fable to ascertain how a friendship can forge itself, stemming from reciprocated kindness. Yockteng’s ferocious, low-key mixed-media artwork features stunning vignettes and page-filling spreads of woodlands populated with curious creatures.
A grand, morally opulent retelling with a message for our age. (Picture book. 4-7)