cover image Lion & Tiger & Bear: Tag! You’re It!

Lion & Tiger & Bear: Tag! You’re It!

Ethan Long. Abrams, $14.95 (40p) ISBN 978-1-4197-1896-0

Long (Fright Club) kicks off a series featuring a trio of pals: Lion, Tiger, and Bear. Lion is trying to paint by himself, but Bear and Tiger want to play tag. “Artists need peace and quiet,” Lion tells his friends. The more he tries to make himself “extremely unavailable,” the more his friends (who have quickly realized that two-person tag is unsatisfying) just can’t quit him. Finally, a compromise is struck: Tiger and Bear will postpone tag until Lion finishes his painting—which, in a mild bit of comic irony, turns out to be a tribute to their friendship. Long’s sketchlike story seems designed to establish the characters’ personalities—fussy, exuberant, and sweetly clueless, respectively—and the parameters of their friendship; it’s not unlike watching a TV pilot. But the pacing and framings hit their marks, Long’s cartoon stylings give the book a breezy feel, and there’s enough of a friendly, goofy vibe to make readers wonder where Long will take these characters next. Ages 5–7. Agent: Paul Rodeen, Rodeen Literary Management. (Mar.)