In The Lion, by James Foley (Walker Books), ISBN: 978 1 922077 13 4
I don't know about you, but there are times when I love to visit an older styled concept of picture book, but I especially like them with a new twist. This book, with lives comfortably and well read on my bookshelf, is by the talented James Foley, who is an author inside an illustrator!
Children love repetition, if it isn't boring that is, and Foley's story uses a traditional repetition, similar to the much loved This is the House that Jack Built, but with a slight bit of a risqué approach: that being, who gets eaten by the lion?
As each zoo worker comes to care for the lion, they are eaten. We know what is coming next, the anticipation and shock factor keep us rolling along with humour and jest. Slowly, those visiting the zoo catch on as well. At first, it is only a young boy who notices the horrific events, but adults behind their cameras, miss each consumption until the chef and the zoo keeper disappear in two quick gulps. What child wouldn't love this book? It is delectable!
Eventually, the problem gets bigger and bigger and soon, the lion escapes, consuming many, including other animals on it's path. No one knows what to do, after all, those in charge are 'inside the lion!' Who will stop the carnage? Who will fix this problem? Our little boy of course.
I won't reveal the ending, but I will say that our hero triumphs, as one must in a book where a lion eats people.
Foley's illustrations are humorous and animated. They offer different perspectives of the zoo, those involved in the gastronomic disaster and balances the serious and potential gore with a light, funny and almost day to day approach. His subtle hints in his illustrations, especially on the last page, open the doors to other potential scenarios that are left to our imaginations to create.
A great book for all little people, carnivores, lions, zoo keepers, dentists and small boys (& girls) who are much like the author, James Foley! Oh, and adults like us who enjoy a bit of fun from time to time without the mess to clean up.
Put this book in your library zoo and keep the gates locked....with you inside.
Illustrations for In The Lion by James Foley
(Reviewers note/confession: As a reviewer I need to be impartial and honest about the books I present to my readers. In the Australian Children's and YA publishing industry, most creators know each other and sometimes we know each other quite well. Often we review books created by our friends and peers (this is hard to avoid) and I endeavour to maintain a professional approach to this task. My opinions of this book and others I review are not because of friendships but from a genuine response to great literature for children.)
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