The cover alone made me want to take this book home for my children. The illustrations are wonderful, coloured in a kind of throwback 70s muted tone that is coming back in for sophisticated picture books in particular.
Poor little mouse can’t make himself heard in the jungle – he’s constantly being stepped on and ignored, and he is getting fed up. Lion is the tough guy of the jungle, posturing and posing, picking up hippos and generally being alpha male, with a crowd of admirers jostling to see him. Mouse sees him doing his poses and roars and thinks, well here’s how I’m going to be seen. I’m going to go and see what lion can teach me.
So he made himself brave
and he thought like a WINNER.
He set off for the top…
hoping not to be dinner.
It felt like the scariest thing
he could do…
But if you want things to change,
you first have to change You.
The book is written in a patter rhythm, reminiscent of Roadworks by Sally Sutton, but without the whooshes and beeps; with language that is similar to Dr Seuss, with plenty of coinage and a lot of quirky fun. I would love to see a short film made of this book; the characters are both excellent and the jungle setting is brilliantly spooky as night falls.
The only qualm I have with this book is that it slightly overdoes its moral message. As it happens, we need this message in our house at the moment, but it does feel a little spoon-fed. The moralising line is a fine line that children’s book must take care to stay on the right side of, because forcing a message is the easiest way to turn a kid off a book.
This book would make a great addition to any child’s library – the jungle animals, silly sense of fun, and incredible illustrations make sure of it. Highly recommended.
Reviewed by Sarah Forster
The Lion Inside
by Rachel Bright, illustrated by Jim Field
Published by Orchard Books