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A Hungry Lion or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals

by Lucy Ruth Cummins

Published by Atheneum, 2016
36 pages
ISBN: 978-1-4814-4889-5

Ages 4-8

“Once upon a time there was a hungry lion, a penguin, a turtle, a little calico kitten, a brown mouse, a bunny with floppy ears, and a bunny with un-floppy ears….” The list goes on. But with each turn of the page, some of the animals disappear, until finally the narrator notes, “Umm…I guess Once upon a time there was just a HUNGRY LION and a dwindling assortment of other animals.” Just when children will think they’ve got it all figured out—that lion, whistling innocently, is clearly eating the others—Surprise! Here they all are, at a party. For the lion. With cake (“enormous, lovely four-tiered cake with buttercream frosting”). Whew! But then…who turned off the lights? Oh! There’s never a dull moment in this picture book, with its alternating cascade of language and sparely stated moments, its perfect pacing, and its constant unsettling of readers’ and listeners’ understanding and expectations. Child-like illustrations offset the sophisticated text, adding to the overall effect of being deliciously undermined at every turn. ©2016 Cooperative Children’s Book Center


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