Picture books about lions always end up being my favourites. The Stone Lion, A Lion in Paris, The Snow Lion and now I can add How To Be a Lion to the mighty list. Something to do with all that courage, I guess. Leonard the lion is not your ordinary lion. He would rather daydream and write poetry than do the things that normal lions do.
Ed Vere is a master of witty picture books that offer just as much for adults as they do for children. This is a great read aloud text that will amuse any room full of kids with hilarious language and illustrations. However chiefly, it has such a gentle, beautiful message about quiet ones being loud. It will speak to those kids that often wait in the shadows and pause while the rowdiest of us do all the talking. A powerful message that sings to my introverted heart. Although, my absolute favourite part of the book is the sheer jubilance seen on Leonard’s face as he scooters past his ducky friend. Brilliant.
WITH LITTLE READERS:
The obvious themes to explore are being yourself, courage, difference, friendships, standing up to bullying and stereotypes. The empowering discussions will wash through the room- let them happen. Hopefully the thoughtful voices will take their time to speak. Enough said.
I’d also use this text to compare and contrast with others that offer similar themes. When studying Character, look at how Leonard believes in his ability to be different and compare him to the lions in other texts, contrast him with more stereotypical lions from classic literature like Aslan from The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. Take it further and make comparisons between characters that follow similar journeys of identity crisis– you could even look at how he relates to Augie from Wonder.
When studying Point of View, analyse how the duck might feel when the lion pride arrive and tell the story from her point of view. Have the children debate or write persuasive texts from the point of view of the lion pride convincing Leonard to be a fierce lion, just like them.
The possibilities for embodiment and drama are endless. I’m excited to see some fierce but quiet, lion roars! Enjoy this beautiful picture book as much as I did. It’s an absolute treasure. Thank you, Ed Vere, I’m off to find my own thinking hill.