In this wordless picture book, a dandelion becomes a dandy lion before he goes to seed.
To call this book original is an understatement. Tanaka literally translates a common mispronunciation of “dandelion” into a series of pictures whose adventures unfold as in a dream. The lemon-yellow petals surrounding a comical, toothless, wide-eyed lion face glow against detailed backgrounds in grainy, gradated grays, whites, and blacks. The plant-cum-lion gazes wonderingly at the transformation of leaves into soft, clawless paws before it ventures beyond its meadow into the world beyond. As can happen in dreams, potential dangers and sorrows are thwarted by sudden changes: The threat of falling off the top of a train ends in a soft landing on the back of a sheep; when rain begins on the high seas, a bird’s wing offers shelter; in a large, indifferent city, a movie theater offers respite. The paneled sequence of Dandelion inside the theater is particularly whimsical, especially when his diminutive size is contrasted with a piece of popcorn. The dream ends with realistic images of thousands of dandelion seeds sailing off into the night—and then a final image that reconnects reality and Dandelion’s dream. The art produces such strong identification with Dandelion that it will encourage young listeners to verbalize as Dandelion. A subtle lesson in life cycles underlies a book that is gently humorous, engaging, and soothing.
Stunning. (Picture book. 3-6)