Sun Flower Lion

HarperCollins/Greenwillow. Sept. 2020. 40p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9780062866103.
PreS-K–A white circle with a scalloped yellow border—is it the sun? A flower? A lion? It’s all three. Across six two-page chapters, readers are asked if they can see the Sun, Flower, and Lion—first by themselves and then added to a scene with one another: the flower looks like a little lion, the lion smells the flower, and warms himself in the sun. Chapter 4 deviates from pattern, entering a dream sequence (with the panels taking on scalloped edges reminiscent of the title items). In Chapter 5 the story returns to form, with a subversion; when readers are asked if they can see the lion, they cannot because “He is running too fast.” Chapter 6 sees the contented lion sleeping at home with his family, and the text returns to the repetition of “Can you see him? Yes, you can.” Skillful interconnections between the distinctive illustrations and the brief text make this title a great pick for beginning readers. A limited three-color palette and thick black outlines evoke the simplicity and two-dimensional quality of a child’s drawing. The humor relies on playfulness among similar illustrations, while the deliberate use of few colors allow readers to recognize the repetition of the title shapes throughout, down to the final spread where the flower and sun peek into the corners of the scene of the little lion dozing with his family.
VERDICT With a return to a distinct and limited color palette like that of Henkes’s award-winning Kitten’s First Full Moon, this is a must have for all collections, appropriate for both sharing out loud and for beginning readers.

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