A lion accompanies a child on a walk home during a day in the city in this wistful tale of parental absence.
The story begins with a simple gesture: a nameless, light-skinned child in a school uniform holds out a flower to a lion. “Keep me company on the way home,” says the child. The lion then follows the child, terrifying adults—and delighting other kids—at school and on the city’s streets all the way home. The pair dashes by crowded buses and cars, stops to pick up the child-narrator’s younger sibling, and even shops at “the store that won’t give us credit anymore.” (Fortunately, the ferocious feline can help with the last difficulty.) At home, things start to settle down as the trio prepares a meal and waits for Mama to return from the factory. The day soon ends, and the lion departs, though the child-narrator hopes it returns when called. Similar to Buitrago and Yockteng’s previous collaborations, the story ends on a poignant and unexpected note. The first-person narration tugs readers along with ease, deftly eliciting compassion from the performance of seemingly mundane tasks. Yockteng’s muted illustrations depict the city as full of cracked buildings, drab colors, and expression captured in movement. Minor details in the pictures, including environmental print in Spanish, take readers in different directions all at once, adding to the low-key narration.
Emotionally resonant in the loveliest of ways. (Picture book. 4-7)