Review Blog

Feb 26 2018

A lion is a lion by Polly Dunbar

cover image

Walker Books, 2018. ISBN 9781406371536
(Ages: 2-7) Highly recommended. The talented Polly Dunbar (probably best known for Penguin) has created this humorous and unique feast for the eyes and the ears. It looks amazing, from the eye-catching front cover onwards, and is fantastic to read. The cover shows a distinguished-looking lion sitting at a table with knife and fork at the ready and two children on either side staring at him in astonishment. Is he still a lion? He's wearing a hat and coat! Would a lion eat with a knife and a fork?! This sets the premise for the book. "Is a lion still a lion if . . . he carries an umbrella, too?"  "Is a lion still a lion if he rings the doorbell, greets you politely and asks you to dance? As the children find out," YES, A LION IS A LION IS A LION!", so you should tell him to SHOOO!"
The heavy use of capitalisation, italics and punctuation (if you are not a fan of exclamation marks steer clear!) assist in making this a dramatic, theatrical read-aloud. Dunbar's black line illustrations are fabulous, especially the larger than life lion and his expressive face. There is a touch of The Tiger Who Came to Tea here but with an interesting point of difference with the children deciding that no, they would not allow the lion to come into their house - even if he does have a particularly well-groomed mane and impeccable table manners! The tiger who came to tea doesn't decide to eat children for dessert though either.
There is an old proverb that "A hog in a silk waistcoat is still a hog" and this is the simple message conveyed here. Perhaps there is even a little bit of a wolf in sheep's clothing about this well-dressed, pompous lion.
This is great fun for both the reader and the audience, who are directly addressed ("So please remember, A LION IS ALWAYS A LION!").
This is a winning picture book to share with children of all ages.
Nicole Nelson

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