Review Detail

Kids Fiction 70
Great springboard for creativity
Overall rating
Writing Style
Illustrations/Photos (if applicable)
A young girl asks her father to tell her a story, but isn't pleased with the direction his narrative takes. She demands he come up with a lion story, but doesn't like the size of the lion or the named the father gives him, so the father wisely tells her that they will tell the story together. The rest of the book has Mad Lib style blanks so that the reader of the book can contribute to the story as well. The lion invents unnamed things, flies with great unspecificity, and travels to the moon before heading home to put on his pajamas. The lion then asks the girl and her father to tell HIM a story, and make it about a ________!
Good Points
The illustration style instantly took me back to Edith and Clement Hurd's Johnny Lion's Book (1965), with it's bright colors and rough edged pencil over mixed media drawings. Perhaps it was the fact that the father sported a plaid dress shirt and reminded me a bit of Alvin and the Chipmunk's human adoptive father, David Seville (Check the pictures; I'll wait!), that this had such a strong 1960s vibe for me.

My own children were huge fans of telling stories, and loved writing them down and illustrating them, but many of my middle school students struggle with coming up with the most basic story ideas. A book like this is a great way to encourage young readers to take ownership of stories and create their own, starting with filling in the blanks and hopefully moving on to formulating more ideas. While having this book in a library might cause a few problems (blanks are notoriously hard to LEAVE blank!), it is a great book in an elementary classroom, and I can see a lot of great lion stories being produced by first and second graders inspired by this tale.

Hills' Rocket Writes a Story, Coyle and Taylor's The Biggest Story, Venable's Amy the Red Panda Is Writing The Best Story in The World, and Spinelli's The Best Story are all great books to pair with this book and encourage young readers to come up with their own story. Bonus points if you sew paper together, have the child illustrate the book, and bind the pages together with wallpaper samples. Warning: the resultant tome will be impossible to part with in forty years' time, although wallpaper today probably doesn't come in Harvest Gold velvet flocked patterns!
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