The Lions at Night

RoadRunner. Mar. 2019. 40p. Tr $20. ISBN 9781937054786.
PreS-Gr 1–New York Public Library’s famous lions, Patience and Fortitude, quite literally come to life in this wordless love letter to their history and to the Big Apple itself. Beginning in black and white, the illustrations show a librarian heading into the library at dusk. As it grows darker, the lions become infused with a golden color and come alive, leaving their plinths and taking the subway to Coney Island, where they enjoy an evening filled with food, games, and rides. Eventually, they sleepily return home, where the librarian reads to them until they return to their iconic statue state. Boehman’s illustrations begin with a monochromatic, realistic, detailed style, adding color only to beings and surroundings that have a connection to the lions. Upon arrival at Coney Island, the book bursts into full-color and a more cartoon-like style. Boehman uses a combination of full-bleed spreads and single pages, along with cartoon-style panels to draw viewers into the story. Her shifts in point of view and close-up imagery, along with the limited initial color palette, are reminiscent of Brian Selznick’s work in Wonderstruck. Easter eggs from the lions’ history are provided, and there is an extensive historical note. The book is a visual delight that invites rereads. While likely to be most popular in New York City, anyone looking to armchair travel can enjoy it.
VERDICT A must-have for New York and its surrounding communities, this is a pleasant addition to any library collection

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