Review Blog

Apr 30 2018

A lion is a lion by Polly Dunbar

cover image

Walker Books, 2018, ISBN 978140637153
(Ages: 2-5) Recommended. Themes: Identity, Lions, Child Protection. Polly Dunbar's fun picture book immediately starts to question the readers' perception about the large male lion as he fiercely stares at you. 'Fierce, isn't he? Too fierce for you?' Stop reading and ask the audience to predict what will happen next, where will he go and what will he do? The following pages are humorous. With questioning text, the author paints funny scenarios as the lion dresses up in a trilby hat, matching blue jacket and dances down the street twirling a red umbrella. His antics are watched by a young brother and sister safe behind the window pane.
Ding dong and the door is opened to welcome the large polite lion who even asks about Auntie Sue's health. There's 'hoobie-doobie' dancing and twirling to music from a wind-up gramophone, and a delicious lunch where the plate is also eaten! A little frisson of danger occurs as he opens his mouth wide, showing all his pearly-white teeth, will the children become dessert? With a giant roar, the youngsters quickly hide under the table cloth and make their decision. Boldly they declare hand in hand, strong assertions that it is time for the huge lion to leave with his hat and his umbrella.
Dunbar's easy to read story includes changes of text size, interesting word placements, and emphatic statements, and she uses a questioning style in the narrative. Her ink-and-wash artwork is spirited, and included are large two-page spreads where the action is focussed on the large lion set against white space, then moves to bright scenes filled with movement. The high-contrast red backgrounds underpin capture the change in mood.
A Lion is a Lion carries the keep safe message, highlighting the rights of the child to say no to intimidating behaviour. A perfect picture book to share as a family and in a learning environment as part of the Child Protective Behaviours curriculum and as an introduction in English to punctuation and questioning in dialogue.
Rhyllis Bignell

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