An all-too-successful cereal promotion leads to surprises, some of them unpleasant, for two lads who send in coupons for a free lion.
As the British import starts out on a cautionary path, makes an abrupt turnabout, and then ends with what could be construed (on this side of the pond, anyway) as trademark infringement, it’s all rather a muddle. After urging readers to ignore cereal coupons, a young narrator describes how he and his brother spent a year’s allowance on 100 boxes of Mr. Flaky cornflakes only to see all their neighbors getting their lions first. Worse yet, they finally receive (because the company had run out of lions) a bad-tempered grizzly bear, a cranky crocodile, and finally a destructive gorilla. But then said animals are suddenly, inexplicably transformed from annoyances to assets (the croc, for instance, obligingly bites open cans). Furthermore, lions aren’t worth the trouble—“EVERYONE’S got one”— but check out the new prize offering: a genial, anthropomorphic tiger! Field’s lackadaisical scenes of tidy suburban chaos, swarms of mostly well-behaved (male) lions, and human figures with exaggerated expressions of dismay or irritation do little to boost the comedy or clarify the message, if any.
This bland addition to the “unusual pets” genre misses most of the comedic possibilities and ends up a long way from “grrrrreat.” (Picture book. 5-7)