Title: Library Lion
Author: Michelle Knudsen
Illustrator: Kevin Hawkes
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Publication Date: July 25, 2006
A lion wanders into a library and listens to story hour. When it ends, the lion expresses his displeasure by roaring loudly only to be reminded that library users must be quiet in the library. Upon promising to keep his voice low, the lion returns each day to story hour, assisting librarians and patrons with general tasks. However, one day, the head librarian falls and sends the library lion for help. The poor lion is faced with the choice of breaking the rules or saving his friend.
I absolutely loved this book. First the story is enchanting. My four year old son asked for it be read aloud multiple times. The concept of a lion wandering into the library (rather than just sitting as a statue outside) was appealing. Additionally, I appreciated that the text accepts this unusual event and incorporates a different individual into its every day processes - despite the protests of Mr. McBee.
Second, I was completely entranced (as was my four year old) by the acrylic and pen illustrations. While I initially thought that these had been done in watercolors, I made certain to read the Library of Congress information which explained the process choice for these wonderful and engaging pictures. I was even inspired to go to Kevin Hawkes website to determine if he offered more information on his medium choices. (He doesn't but he does take emails; if he responds to mine, I will post the response here.)
The story is simple, yet entertaining and it offers in a very comprehensible manner what rules are and why they should be followed. Additionally, it allows children the time to consider when breaking a rule or policy might be allowed (such as an emergency) and it would open up a dicussion for that topic even with the youngest of children.
From School Library Journal
Starred Review. PreSchool-Grade 2–Miss Merriweather, head librarian and decorum-keeper, first meets Lion when he saunters past his stone counterparts and into the stacks. Scowling circulation assistant Mr. McBee seems intent on having the enormous cat ejected, but his boss declares that as long as he breaks no rules, he is welcome. The beast does misbehave though, roaring loud displeasure when storytime ends. At Miss Merriweather's reprimand, the contrite-looking lion promises to reform. In fact, he becomes something of a fixture in the building, dusting with his tail, licking envelopes, and serving as a stepstool for small patrons. Everyone appreciates him–except Mr. McBee. When Lion lets out another tremendous RAAAHHHRRR!, the man bursts into Miss Merriweather's office to snitch–and there he finds her in distress, having fallen from a stool and broken her arm. Lion, à la Lassie, has saved the day, but he is so chagrined by his own rule-breaking behavior that he doesn't return to the library. People miss him. Even Mr. McBee. A feel-good ending and a reminder that Sometimes, there is a good reason to break the rules bring the story to its most-satisfactory conclusion. Hawkes's deft acrylic-and-pencil pictures have appeal for generations of library lovers. They are rich with expression, movement, and detail. The lordly, lovable lion is a masterful mix–regal beast and furry friend–and the many human characters are drawn with animation and emotion. This winsome pairing of text and illustration is a natural for storytime and a first purchase for every collection.–Kathy Krasniewicz, Perrot Library, Old Greenwich, CT Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
PreS-Gr. 2. This story's appealing premise is clear in the first sentence: "One day, a lion came to the library." There's the expected uproar as the lion pads through the stacks, but librarian Miss Merriweather only asks: "Is he breaking any rules?" The lion is not, and so he is allowed to stay. He makes himself useful and enjoys story hour until Miss Merriweather falls and breaks her arm. The lion roars for help, but his noise prompts a scolding from an uptight, oblivious staff member. The story falters a bit as it explores messages about rules and exceptions in a way that feels both purposeful and a bit convoluted. The warm friendships will easily draw interest, though, as will the handsome, nostalgic pencil-and-acrylic illustrations. Children will easily see themselves in the wild lion, which yearns to explore and enjoy the library but worries about the constraining rules. A fine partner for other library tales, such as Judy Sierra's Wild about Books (2004) and Lauren Child's But Excuse Me That Is My Book (2006). Gillian Engberg
- Use in a lesson on appropriate library or classroom behavior at the beginning of the year.
- Use in a lesson for when it is "okay" to break the rules.
- Use in a lesson on acceptance of different individuals.