I have a huge number of books waiting to be blogged, all fantastic books that I’m desperate to share with you, but sometimes certain books leap to the top of the pile, and there’s one who’s always going to do that … the King of the Jungle. If you See a Lion is written by Karl Newson, illustrated by Andrea Stegmaier and published by Quarto, and it found its way right to the top of my blogging pile, and here’s why…
I’m a sucker for a book with an unusual feature, and a great big old bite taken out of the corner of the cover definitely counts, there’s something sacrilege about eating a lovely book!! So already I was hooked. There’s a story inside these bitten pages, but it has been gobbled up by a hungry lion! We travel through it finding bits of story have been eaten by the lion. As he goes about his destruction of the story, little rabbit intervenes to give lion a piece of his mind! Of course, what would the lion do but eat him up too!! But Rabbit is stronger and smarter and eventually gets lion to burp everything he’s eaten back out. Rabbit then teaches the lion an unexpected yet important lesson about not having to act in a certain way, and just being himself.
If You See a Lion is one of those fantastic ultimate children’s read. Karl Newson’s writing here is some of his best ever in my opinion. It’s written in rhyme, which can often be a risky venture, but not in this case, the flow is just fantastic, reading it is almost like singing a song, it’s so rhythmic. But to be able to inject character and expression into the words whilst also rhyming them is the ultimate skill that only few succeed in and Karl has done it! This is the kind of book that will have children laughing, screaming and participating in. With lots of repetition of “if you see a lion…” children will soon pick up on the flow of the story and be able to join in, repetition is also something children just love. The familiarity and fun in this kind of book is what will make a child choose it night after night.
I love that this story isn’t a short or super quick read, it’s a substantial, structured tale that you can really get your teeth into (not literally like the lion!!), making it one you can read over and over and find something new in each time.
If you see a Lion is fun and entertaining, but the big twist at the end also allows for some important lessons to be taught about being yourself. Not fitting into stereotypes and following set behaviours, but being the you that you want to be, and for children this is a crucial thing to learn.
Andrea’s illustrations really stood out to me in this book as the perfect choice, they are seriously gorgeous. I really loved the varied nature of the spreads, some full of colour with loads of details, some pages simple and clean, and one even designed in portrait style. It adds to the fun and excitement in this book, and will keep children interested. The soft colour palette is just lovely and allows the characterful artwork to stand out, with chomps all over the pages and a host of funny characters, there’s just so much humour injected into the pages to support Karl’s writing. I’m a particular fan of the lovely chomped rainbow, and the POP page showing a whole load of furious spat out characters!
If You See a Lion is just perfection in book form really. It’s funny and silly which both adults and Children will love. But it’s thoughtful and meaningful too … a difficult meld to get right. There’s interaction, there’s expression, there’s vocabulary! Honestly if my library was open right now I would be jumping at the chance to read this to my groups and class visits, I know it would be just another storming story time thanks to this author and illustrator combo!
I think this book will be a huge huge success …. providing Lion doesn’t chomp it all up first!
If you see a Lion is out now and available from all good bookshops and libraries. Please support your local indie stores.
Thank you to Quarto for sending me a copy of this book and thank you for reading this Book Monster review.