cover image Lion Lessons

Lion Lessons

Jon Agee. Dial, $17.99 (32p) ISBN 978-0-8037-3908-6

Bypassing storefronts that advertise karate, tutoring, and violin lessons, this book’s young narrator walks into a shop offering “Lion Lessons” and chooses a tawny, maned costume. His instructor, an actual lion, holds a degree from the Harvard School of Claw and teaches the “seven steps to becoming a lion.” At first, the professor finds his small student disappointing, because the boy underperforms at basic skills like Looking Fierce, Roaring, and Prowling Around. “I can see your tail,” the lion chides, when the boy hides in a bush. The boy hides behind a tree. “ ‘Your tail,’ said the lion. ‘I can still see it.’ ” Only when an emergency arises—a dog chases a kitten—does the apprentice pounce and roar convincingly. “Bravo!” says the lion. Agee’s (It’s Only Stanley) sentences are short and punchy, and he carves out gouache shapes in thick, deliberate ink outlines. He sets up a ridiculous situation with a straight face, approaching it with understated humor and leonine confidence. Ages 4–8. Agent: Holly McGhee, Pippin Properties. (July)