“Is a lion still a lion if … he wears a hat?”

h1 June 5th, 2018 by jules


Here’s a quick post about Polly Dunbar’s latest book, A Lion Is a Lion (Candlewick), released in April. It’s the story of a fierce lion, who makes his way into the home of two children by making himself quite dapper — donning a hat and coat and carrying an umbrella. Is he still a lion, Dunbar asks readers, if he makes himself more human-like and even if he puts on certain manners, such as skipping down the street and singing “Hoobie-doobie-doo”? What about if he appears thoughtful? What if he doesn’t forget his please and thank-yous?


(Click to enlarge and see spread in its entirety)


The children are taken in, dancing with the lion and even sitting down to dine with him. But is this lion still a lion? Yes, he exposes his “oh-so-pearly-white” teeth and roars loudly, attempting to bite the children. The lion is in full pursuit when the children put a stop to it with strident and forceful “NO!”s.

There is something early-Sendakian (even Dunbar’s loose-lined art) in this story about setting boundaries. I think it’s several things but primarily that the children in the story are empowered to put a stop to the behavior. I love to see stories like this, ones with such respect for the abilities of children. (The Kirkus review notes that the spirit of Maurice Sendak “hovers happily” in this tale.)

“No, you may NOT come in — we DO mind if you do!” Refreshing.


(Click to enlarge)


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A LION IS A LION. Copyright © 2018 by Polly Dunbar. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Candlewick Press, Somerville, MA on behalf of Walker Books, London.

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