7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #471: Featuring Lucy Ruth Cummins

h1 February 21st, 2016 by jules

“Once upon a time there was a hungry lion, a penguin, a turtle, a little calico kitten,
a brown mouse, a bunny with floppy ears and a bunny with un-floppy ears, a frog,
a bat, a pig, a slightly bigger pig, a woolly sheep, a koala, and also a hen.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


I’ve got a few spreads today from Lucy Ruth Cummins’ A Hungry Lion, or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals, coming from Atheneum next month. Cummins is not only a writer and illustrator; she is also a full-time art director. (Here’s her site.) This new book, which she rendered via brush marker, gouache, graphite, colored pencil, and charcoal, is the story of a very hungry lion, as you can see from the three spreads here today. It takes the sweet ending you expect and turns it on its head in the vein of the contemporary subversive picture book, but instead of a surprise revenge, Cummins brings readers yet another twist at the close of the story, which I won’t ruin for you.

There’s a lot of humor here — the dark humor, it goes without saying, of the hapless animals’ fates. There are delightful jolts — one in which the lion’s face dominates the spread, staring up close at the reader, as well as spreads where the lights are turned off, the reader seeing utter darkness in one. There is some shimmying, animals in party hats, and a “lovely four-tiered cake with buttercream frosting.” (Can’t beat that.) Cummins’ text is peppered with delicious, precise words (“a contented koala”), mixed in with intentionally imprecise phrases, like “a bat doing his bat thing.” The narrator also takes on a relaxed, almost chummy tone and is quite often unsure of herself; there are some “Wait a second”s and “Hold on”s. All this makes for a great read-aloud.

The last animal standing … well, it’s funny stuff, but I won’t ruin for that for you either. Here are two more spreads. …


“Hold on. Once upon a time there was a hungry lion, a penguin, a turtle, a brown mouse, those two rabbits—one with ears that flopped, one with ears that did not—-
a frog, a bat, a regular-size pig, and a koala.”

(Click to enlarge spread)


“Wait a second. It seems there was just a hungry lion, a turtle, only the floppy-eared rabbit, a frog, a bat, and a pig. And apparently? No one else.”
(Click to enlarge spread)



A HUNGRY LION, OR A DWINDLING ASSORTMENT OF ANIMALS. Copyright © 2016 by Lucy Ruth Cummins. Illustrations used by permission of the publisher, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York.

* * *

Note for any new readers: 7-Imp’s 7 Kicks is a weekly meeting ground for taking some time to reflect on Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week, whether book-related or not, that happened to you. New kickers are always welcome.

* * * Jules’ Kicks * * *

1) I’m reading Elizabeth Strout’s My Name Is Lucy Barton, and it’s unputdownable.

2) Finishing Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry with my girls.

3) I always look forward to reading this every year, USBBY’s selection of Outstanding International Books.

4) I enjoyed reading this conversation with Alison McGhee and Kathi Appelt, because my girls and I are enjoying their new book they talk about there.

5) Seeing two librarian friends while out yesterday.

6) Re-scheduling a research trip I had to cancel last Fall. Everything seems to be falling back into place.

7) I was sad to see the last episode of Gravity Falls, but I’m glad for the fun we Danielsons had watching that show while it lasted.

What are YOUR kicks this week?

10 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #471: Featuring Lucy Ruth Cummins”

  1. Thank.you for sharing The Hungry Lion. I love books.with dark humor.
    Jules, I need to look for Strout’so book. The research trip sounds interesting.
    My kicks:
    1. Signs of spring.
    2. Students.
    3. Book club tonight. Worthy Brown’s Daughter by Phillip Margolin. The author will be at our meeting.
    4. Poetry writing with students.
    5. The arrival of my great niece, Everly.
    6. The Found Objects Poetry Challenge.
    7. My poem featured on Today’s Little Ditty blog.
    Have a great week.

  2. Good morning, Imps!

    Hello to Lucy Ruth Cummins and the hungry animals! They bring to mind Circus Animal cookies. 🙂

    Jules: Enjoy the books and the visits! I enjoy Alison McGhee’s works.

    Jone: Welcome to the world, Everly! Congrats on your poetry.

    My kicks for the past week:
    1) Opportunities
    2) Offers
    3) Preparation
    4) Configuration
    5) Stance
    6) Steady
    7) Still

  3. A Hungry Lion sounds like just my kind of book – love the spreads and the tone!

    Jules – thanks for the book recommendations, and hooray for the rescheduled trip.

    Jone – signs of spring are so nice after all the grey & rain. Congrats on the new family member and have fun at book club!

    LW – love your kicks as usual, but the last 5 especially make it sound like you are at a jumping off point for a big adventure/event/something amazing.

    My kicks this week:
    1) Reading “My Life on the Road” by Gloria Steinem.
    2) Hard work with talented smart people.
    3) People doing the right thing, even when it’s hard. (And its often hard to do the right thing.)
    4) Watched “Brave” and absolutely loved it. I would’ve wanted to be Merida when I was growing up.
    5) Falling in love with Andra Day’s voice https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hmHfo_3EGFA
    6) Seeing ‘Hamilton” performed on the Grammys.
    7) People doing good things in the world. There are bad things of course, but there’s a lot of good going on too. This week RDJ helped Make-A-Wish NZ make a little boy an honorary Avenger & become Iron Boy to save his city, & Susie’s Senior Dogs helped facilitate a lot of adoptions for older abandoned dogs in shelters. Makes my heart happy.

    Speaking of older dogs – Miss Daisy goes in for surgery later this week to get a cancerous tumor removed. It’s a simple 1 day thing, I get to pick her up & bring her home the same day, but any good healing thoughts sent her way are of course appreciated.

    Have a warm and happy week Imps!

  4. I love the drawings in “A Hungry Lion” and your review Jules makes the words sound very appealing. I am definitely sending healing thoughts to Miss Daisy – a quick and compete recovery! It’s intriguing to think what Little Willow might be up to, and I’m also hoping your trip Jules is research for the project you are taking daily baby steps toward.
    1. Reading kicks on a sunday morning – thanks Jules
    2. Reading and just loving the Howell biography of Gertrude Bell
    3. which led me to “The Wilder Shores of Love” which sounds such a bodice ripper, but is book about four women who follow or find their hearts in 19th century middle east. Written in the 50’s – a most unusual book about women way out of their time (and a different time for the mideast) – such journeys, makes our travel ridiculously easy
    4. sunshine
    5. Finishing “When Breath Becomes Air” – which is truly sad, but beautiful and amazing
    6. painting with a four year old and watching a nearly 11 month old explore her world
    7. remembering to be grateful for all of it – the good things in this world – and this world!
    good week ahead to all!

  5. Jone, Everly! What a great name. Enjoy your book club.

    Little Willow, McGhee is kind of on a roll, isn’t she?

    Rachel: Best of luck to Daisy, and I will send good thoughts your way. Thanks for the reminder to go hear Andra Day, whom I keep hearing great things about.

    Katy: Your last kick says it all. … I’m intrigued by “When Breath Becomes Air.” Is it a poem? I’ll have to look this up.

    Have a great week, everyone!

  6. I enjoy reading A Hungry Lion. It’s one of those unputdownables that you spoke of reading. Like I strive to write. What a fabulous post.

    My kicks:
    Writing a picture book that came together so quickly it felt like magic.
    A fabulously clean office.
    Love of my family.
    The way my husband still looks at me.
    Planning daughter’s graduation from homeschool and happily skipping about our farm because she was accepted to her top choice college.

  7. Sending SO many healthy, healing vibes to Miss Daisy and good thoughts to her awesome human, Miss Rachel!

  8. Katy – what a lovely week, especially the painting with the 4 year old, helping the 11 month old explore, and yes, your last kick says it best!

    Robyn – happy graduation planning & congrats on the first choice acceptance for your daughter!

    Thanks all for all the good thoughts for Miss Daisy! We’ll carry them with us this week. 🙂

  9. 1. cross country skiing in beautiful spring conditions AND
    2. doing a goofy biathlon where we shot at targets with BB guns while skiing. Yeehaw
    3. Bringing my dog to work
    4. spending time with a good friend I have not seen in a year
    5. Ordering the 4th book in All the Wrong Questions series
    6. Hooray for the Riff Raff
    7. working on some ridiculous art with Jim Paillot

  10. Robyn, congrats to your daughter! And to YOU on the picture book writing-with-ease. Are you going to submit it for publication?

    Rachel, still sending good thoughts your way.

    Cindy, that’s a good week, filled with friends, travel, good books, and GREAT music.

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