A Hungry Lion, or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals

Lucy Ruth Cummins. S&S/Atheneum, $16.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4814-4889-5
It’s all very peaceable kingdom at the beginning of this ostensibly placid story. The ingenuous narrator introduces a self-possessed lion (marvelously drawn in rough pencil, charcoal, and a vigorous application of markers) and 13 cute animals, including “a pig, a slightly bigger pig, a woolly sheep, a koala, and also a hen.” Though described as “hungry,” the lion does not seem particularly threatening, but as the animals start euphemistically “dwindling,” questions arise. Still, the narrator soldiers on, struggling to keep up as Cummins, an S&S art director making her debut as author-artist, keeps readers guessing—it’s fitting that a book with as many “Once upon a time” beginnings as this one has more then one potential ending, some happier than others. Cummins’s dizzy meta-tale has just enough wink and cheek to assure readers that it’s all in good fun, and her visual style—sketchbook playful, slyly spiking sweet-seeming scenes with moments of menace and fear—should leave them hungering (in a nice way) for her next book. Ages 4–8. Agent: Emily Van Beek, Folio Literary Management. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 12/14/2015
Release date: 03/15/2016
Genre: Children's
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