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Review of Lion Lessons

agee_lion lessonsstar2 Lion Lessons
by Jon Agee; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Dial    32 pp.
7/16    978-0-8037-3908-6    $17.99    g

Disregarding a city block full of advertised classes (baking, karate, knitting, yoga), a small but determined little boy heads straight into the building offering “Lion Lessons.” The instructor, a real lion whose diploma reads “Harvard School of Claw,” teaches using a seven-step method. Lion and boy start with some easy stretches, shown in comical spot art, but from there the lessons go downhill. Full of personality and wry details, the cartoon illustrations, with their bold, confident lines, show the awkwardness and frustration growing between teacher and student (now in lion costume) with each step, from “Looking Fierce” to “Roaring” to “Prowling Around.” The young lion-in-training is not very fierce, loud, or stealthy (as he struggles to keep his tail under control). “The lion checked my scores. ‘This is not very promising.’” Only during the seventh step, “Looking Out for Your Friends,” does the boy manage to turn everything around with his instinctive kitten-rescuing skills. The text’s well-timed humor and pacing work seamlessly with the expressive art to create an outstanding read-aloud and a rewarding story.

From the July/August 2016 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Julie Roach About Julie Roach

Julie Roach manages youth services at the Cambridge Public Library in Massachusetts. She also teaches children’s literature at Simmons College’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science and at Lesley University.

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