When Lions Roar
by Robie H. Harris; illus. by Chris Raschka
Preschool Orchard/Scholastic 32 pp.
10/13 978-0-545-11283-3 $16.99 g
A young child (of indeterminate gender) is frightened by loud noises on a trip to the zoo — from screeching monkeys and booming thunder to yelling parents and blaring sirens, each one simply described using the pattern seen in the title (“When big dogs bark!”; “When lightning cracks!”; etc.). Raschka’s crayon and watercolor illustrations, using flat colors in orange, blue, green, and yellow, take the child through “the scary” until he/she is able to find calming spaces. Raschka once again shows his remarkable skill at using line and color to illustrate abstract concepts for young children. At the same time, his pictures provide a narrative context that’s not obvious in the text itself: when a mom and a dad take their timid child to the zoo, they are hit by a sudden thunderstorm. The child’s coping mechanism of drawing in, closing eyes, and telling the scary to “Go away!” is a skill any child can learn in order to calm himself…although it might not always make the sun come out quite so quickly as it does here.
From the September/October 2013 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.