cover image Ella+naughty Lion CL

Ella+naughty Lion CL

Anne Cottringer. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH), $14.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-395-79753-2

Jealousy takes the shape of a belligerent lion in Cottringer's first picture book. Ella, the sister of newborn baby Jasper, watches from a safe distance as a lion pushes Jasper out of his crib and chews a teddy bear ""into little wet bits."" Ella sternly scolds the beast for its misbehavior, but its temper soon flares again. Meanwhile, Ella's parents seem not to hear the animal's roars, indirectly showing that the attention-craving girl and lion are one and the same. Along the same lines as Helen Cooper's recent, similarly themed Little Monster Did It, text and art never admit that the lion is imaginary, and the story ends as sibling rivalry is dampened but not entirely extinguished. After the older sister rescues her little brother from danger, she finds that she likes him; consequently, ""the lion slipped out just as he had come in. But from time to time Ella heard a little growl at the door."" Ayto (Lazy Jack) draws all the characters, including the prankish lion, in imprecise squiggles of ink. The loose outlines, combined with grainy watercolor washes of rust, muted yellow and lichen-green, lend a stuffed-animal softness to the imagery. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)