A timid mouse decides that he must risk confronting a lion in order to make himself heard.
After setting the scene on the African veldt, rhyming verse informs readers that under a “mighty flat rock” there lives, in a “tinyful house,” the “littlest, quietest, / meekest brown mouse.” Next, readers learn that the mouse’s life is lonely and even dangerous because no one notices him. (He is depicted being stepped on and sat upon, ballooning, Pepto-pink speech bubbles expressing his pain.) His miserable life is contrasted to that of the lion on top of the rock, who resembles a benign version of Scar in Disney’s The Lion King—indeed, the illustrations borrow much from 20th-century animation aesthetics. There ensue funny pictures of the lion flexing his muscles and preening. Boastful, strong, and arrogant, he uses his roar to cement his leadership. The mouse decides that if he learns to roar, he too will “make friends and join in.” His large, yellow eyes glow with fear as he looks up from his book, How to Roar, and realizes that only a visit to the lion will enable him to learn that skill. He fears being the lion’s dinner, “but if you want things to change, / you first have to change you.” This odd mix of realistic fears and glib platitudes continues as two expected outcomes (neither one dire) occur, the greatest platitude of all contained in the final, unprovable lines: “no matter your size, / We all have a mouse / AND a lion inside.”
Mostly funny and fun to read but slightly off-kilter. (Picture book. 3-6)