Guest Writer: Ann Korff
The Lion and The Mouse by Jerry Pinkney is a wordless picture book that has very few words throughout the story. The only words that are printed are sounds that are being heard such as “ROOAARRRRRRRRR”, “puff puff” and “GRRR” to name a few. These words are in very large print, with white space and very detailed pictures. This book is great for transitional readers. Horning’s book states “Children at this stage of reading are beginning to read for meaning…” (pg. 133) Because of the lack of words within the story it is up to the children to create the sentences that go along with the illustrations. This means that children should make connections based off the illustrations and the sentences they are constructing to fit the story. Wordless books also push the reader to make connections within their own knowledge. For example, when the lion gets caught by the net and he roars, how should the roar sound to a child if the lion is roaring for help? Is it loud? Is it low and whispery? A child would have to think about several things based on the picture. The child would have to think about how he/she may feel if he/she was trapped and if the child needed help would he/she yell for it or say it softly. The Lion and The Mouse is not your traditional transitional chapter book but it does push the envelope for children who are discovering comprehension. This book helps the child make connections and use words that they know already to create a meaningful reading experience.
Through watercolor with color pencils, Pinkney creates illustrations that are realistic, but beautifully stylized at the same time. Animals and their natural environments are portrayed using fairly accurate, soft colors, while also showing swirling textures in varied framed and full-bleed layouts. Illustrations are made up of a range of single-page to full-page illustrations, showing long-shots of scenery, and close-ups of animal details. Despite the majority full-bleed illustrations, white space is abundant in the illustrations, creating well-balanced compositions. The illustrations do not feel cluttered or chaotic.
As is characteristic for easy reader books, per Horning, these illustrations support and carry the story, while supporting the sparse onomatopoeia text in the book. At the same time, Pinkney does not create stress in him images, even while illustrating the stressful episode where the lion gets caught in the net. This allows the reader to linger on the page and discover the story in each fine detail of the illustrations.
Horning, K. (2010). From cover to cover : Evaluating and reviewing children’s books (Rev. ed.). New York: Collins. Ch. 6
Pinkney, J., & Aesop, . (2009). The lion & the mouse. New York: Little, Brown and Co. Books for Young Readers.