A wee African grass mouse “receives top billing” (according to a concluding note) in this visually stunning retelling of Aesop's fable set amid the Aha Hills of Africa.
One day Mouse rushes over a “tawny boulder that lay in his path,” which, unfortunately, turns out to be King Lion, who traps Mouse and threatens to eat him. Dangling above Lion’s jaws, Mouse begs for release and asserts his bravery. Intrigued, Lion asks Mouse to demonstrate his mettle, and Mouse fiercely tilts with a blade of grass. The amused Lion releases Mouse, who prophesies, “You might need me someday, in a pinch.” A year later, Lion becomes hopelessly snared in a hunter’s trap, and Mouse rescues him by nibbling the ropes. While the elegantly simple text conveys King Lion’s transformation from negligent predator to appreciative victim, the exquisitely rendered brush, ink and pencil illustrations steal the show. Masterful use of white space, dramatic close-ups, arresting perspectives and meticulous respect for natural details memorialize the interaction between Lion and Mouse. Realistic images of Mouse pinned by Lion’s claw, suspended above Lion’s gaping mouth, acrobatically scaling a blade of grass, helpfully gnawing Lion’s ropes and looking Lion in the eye emphasize the humanity of the natural world.
A favorite ancient fable beautifully presented in the tradition of the finest picture books, this does not replace Jerry Pinkney's transcendent, Caldecott-winning The Lion & the Mouse but proudly takes its place beside it. (Picture book. 3 & up)