Written by: Michelle Knudsen
Illustrated by: Kevin Hawkes
Published in 2006
Genre: Picture Book
Grade Level: K-3
Summary: One day a lion shows up in a public library. Instead of kicking him out, the head librarian lets him stay as long as he doesn’t break any rules. The lion starts doing little jobs around the library, until one day he has to break the rules to help a friend. The lion learns that sometimes it is ok to break rules, so long as it is for the right reason.
Cover/Illustrations: The illustrations in this book are, in one word, gorgeous! In my review of Today Was a Terrible Day I complained about the muted colors, but in Library Lion it just works. Really, really beautiful pictures. I also love that the library patrons are diverse. Not only are they racially diverse, but the illustrations also show patrons of all ages: from toddlers to elders. Library Lion is truly a thoughtfully and beautifully illustrated book.
The Good: As I’ve already said, this is a beautiful picture book. I believe I got it at a Scholastic Book Fair during one of my internships, and I am so glad I did.
The illustrations aren’t the only great thing about this book. The writing is excellent as well. Within a couple pages you will fall in love with the lion and the head librarian (Miss Merriweather). The text and pictures flow seamlessly together to make an excellent picture book.
As far as being used at home or in the schools is concerned, Library Lion is set up perfectly to facilitate a discussion about rules: why we have them, why they’re important, and whether it’s ok to break them in certain situations.
The Bad: You have to figure that a book must be good when I have to think really hard to find something to complain about. The only thing I could come up with (and I’m really grasping for straws here) is that a child could take things the wrong way and decide that it’s ok to break rules as long as he/she can come up with a good excuse. But since the chance of the message being taken the wrong way is a risk in all books (and poems, and movies, and art, and any other creative outlet), this is really not a legitimate complaint.
Final Thoughts: Obviously I love this book. If I end up teaching in one of the primary grades it is definitely a book I will be reading to my class. Everything about this book pulls together to make a great story, and I highly recommend reading it for yourself.
I give Library Lion five stars!