Book Review: The Lion and the Mouse

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Bernadette Watts retells the classic Aesop fable, in which a mouse offends a young lion (in this version a cub).  The lion extends mercy to the mouse, who promises to repay the favor someday.  The lion laughs at the thought that someone so small could make a difference for himself, but many years later he is caught in a trap and the mouse is able to free him.

Watts’ interpretation is illustrated with gentle colors and a serene mood, even though the characters’ lives hang in the balance.  The traditional moral, “Don’t underestimate what even the smallest person can do” is incorporated into the lion’s promise to never again laugh at someone weaker than himself.  He also promises to protect the mouse, an offer not included in Aesop’s pithy original.

All in all, this story isn’t bad, but if you’re going to take liberties with a classic plot, you ought to do it boldly.  Watts’ illustrations are pleasant, but a little old-fashioned, and the tale just isn’t as exciting as it had the potential to be.  Still, if you’re trying to teach the fable to an audience which needs a visual anchor, and you can’t find a copy of Jerry Pinkney’s resplendent wordless version, or you just don’t like to read wordless books aloud, this one might  do the trick.

A modern twist on the old plot is available in Amos and Boris, William Steig’s tale of friendship between a mouse and a whale.

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Publication Information: Watts, Bernadette. Lion and the Mouse, The. Aesop (Original Author). Scholastic. 2000. ISBN: 0735821291.
Categories: 3 Stars, Age 00-04
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Posted on November 15, 2011

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