The Happiest Lion Cub

Red Comet. Sept. 2022. 40p. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781636550381.
PreS-Gr 2–In this debut from a Ukrainian author, the weight of the savanna is on a lion cub’s shoulders. He’s to grow up to become king, but what he loves is music. And it’s no passing fancy. He plays his instrument, a sort of long narrow shofar, while assaulted by his father’s long list of “oughts” and an even longer list of virtues: “honest, brave, serious, just, persistant[sic], hardy,” and more. The cub loves to sing. He wants to play in an orchestra. He holds other members of the savanna rapt with his playing, but only when his music rescues a lost fox pup does his father come to understand that music and being king are not mutually exclusive. The charming illustrations are in perfect sympathy with th words, which show the lion cub’s imperviousness to his father’s anger not as rebellion, but as focus on his dream. The comic results of rainfall on a lion’s mane and other funny touches will have children chortling at story hours, and they’ll delight in pointing out residents of this special setting.
VERDICT A splendid debut in a tale as deceptively simple as Aesop, but far more lilting.

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