cover image Chloe and the Lion

Chloe and the Lion

Mac Barnett, illus. by Adam Rex. Disney-Hyperion, $16.99 (48p) ISBN 978-1-4231-1334-8

Take a vaudeville stage with some flimsy painted scenery, two clay figures that represent Barnett and Rex (Billy Twitters and His Blue Whale Problem), a brash and bespectacled heroine named Chloe (hand-drawn), a lion (also drawn), and some walk-on characters, and you’ve got a comedy sketch in picture-book form about the chaos involved in collaborative storytelling. The action plays out in photos of a small, makeshift stage on which Chloe gets lost in the forest and meets—a lion? Or should it be a dragon? “Mac” and “Adam” disagree vehemently about which would be cooler, and Adam ends up being eaten by the lion. Chloe tries to enlist the help of passersby to save him (“I only go after wolves dressed as old ladies,” says a strapping man felling trees) and eventually comes up with a solution of her own, one that allows for even more meta-comedy. As befits its work-in-progress nature, the story gets a little lost in the middle, but rat-a-tat dialogue and fresh visuals should keep it at the top of the bedtime pile. Ages 4–8. Agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. (Apr.)