Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Children's Book Review, In the Lion

Children's Book Review by Susan Stephenson,

If you're looking for a fun new children's picture book to buy and put aside for Christmas, look no further! In the Lion was written and illustrated by James Foley, and published by Walker Books (2012.)

In the city there's a zoo. And in the zoo there's a lion. And in the lion there's ...

In the Lion has elements of the cumulative story, as the lion gets greedier and fatter, swallowing a parade of characters. My favourite is resourceful Richard, the hero, who dons an abandoned dish cover as a helmet and uses the large toothbrush as a jaw opener in his rescue. There's lots of humour in the book, and so many opportunities for discussion. I predict it's a children's picture book that kids will want to listen to again and again.

End papers, those papers immediately inside the front and back covers of a book, are always interesting. But some illustrators make them particularly so. I love that the very last time we see the lion, it's only his tail, and on the tail? A key! Certainly something to discuss with kids and giggle over.

Foley's illustrations, created with graphite drawings and digitally coloured, are a delight. His characters are beautifully individual and portray so many interesting expressions as subtext to the story. Children will enjoy discovering the visual details: for example, the way the chef's scarf looks almost like animal horns, then like lion's teeth. They'll also want to predict what the lion will eat next, and even wonder about more possible meals for the greedy feline.

I have previously reviewed The Last Viking which Foley illustrated. I'm just as impressed with In the Lion. Many thanks to Rebecca Newman, editor of Alphabet Soup, for suggesting it to me. I love it, and recommend it to other lovers of excellent children's picture books, or anyone who just wants a fun story to share with kids.

Here's a trailer for In The Lion.

Find more Children's Book Reviews on The Book Chook by clicking Reviews in the right sidebar.


  1. ooh, this looks like one for me - I'm collecting Zoo books at the mo for a school project. Thanks!

  2. @Playing by the book There's a wonderful poem you might like too. My boys especially loved it. It's called Albert and the Lion, by Marriott Edgar. Here's a link: Hillaire Belloc also has one, Jim.

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