Review of Sun Flower Lion

Sun Flower Lion
by Kevin Henkes; illus. by the author
Preschool, Primary    Greenwillow    40 pp.    g
9/20    978-0-06-286610-3    $18.99
Library ed.  978-0-06-286611-0    $19.89

Meet the sun, “as bright as a flower”; a flower that looks like a lion; and a lion, who sees the flower and dreams about a field of them. But these dream-flowers are delicious cookies, and the lion eats them all. Waking up hungry, he runs home to have supper and sleep snugly with his family. Divided into six brief chapters that follow the lion from hilltop to home, this is a perfectly paced picture book for preschoolers that will also be ideal for emerging readers. With simple shapes (the rounded shapes for the sun, the flower, and the lion are the same but with facial features on the lion) and uncluttered, sunny-yellow illustrations that mirror the text, the book includes a mixture of short declarative and interrogative sentences, the latter directed at the audience. In a couple of instances, Henkes even answers his own questions, one with gentle humor: “The lion runs home. Can you see him? No, you can’t. He is running too fast.” The large, clean, black type is easy to read, always centered in white space. Sentences are full of repetition and rhythm: the flower “is growing on the hill…The lion is running up the hill.” It’s an endearing, seemingly simple story with a wide-eyed and memorable protagonist, whose adventures will delight preschoolers and support and encourage those taking first steps toward reading.

From the September/October 2020 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Julie Danielson
Julie Danielson
Julie Danielson writes about picture books at the blog Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast. She also writes for Kirkus Reviews and BookPage and is a lecturer for the School of Information Sciences graduate program at the University of Tennessee. Her book Wild Things!: Acts of Mischief in Children’s Literature, written with Betsy Bird and Peter D. Sieruta, was published in 2014.

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