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Chloe and the Lion    by Mac Barnett & Adam Rex order for
Chloe and the Lion
by Mac Barnett
Order:  USA  Can
Hyperion, 2012 (2012)
* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

'Oh my gosh, who are these guys?' That was my initial reaction when I first read this book. I have never come across a children's book like this and Lord knows I've read a lot of them the past decade!

For lack of a better label I'll call this a mixed-media book that combines fimo figures with traditional illustrations that play out the action on a three dimensional stage. Got that? Good! Now it gets really complicated.

This is ostensibly Chloe's story. She is a little girl with big goggle eyes and braids who would save her money to enjoy multiple merry-go-round rides. One day Chole found a lot of money, overindulged her passion for the merry-go-round and after way too many go-arounds, became so dizzy that she ended up lost in a forest. That's when a huge lion leapt out from behind a very fake looking tree. But ... but the purported lion looked a lot like a dragon. STOP THE ACTION!

At this point the author, Mac, and the illustrator, Adam, get into a raging argument about the dragon's appearance in the story. 'I just thought a dragon would be cooler,' Adam explains. Oh brother, now we have a creative disagreement that will range for over sixteen pages until Chloe can finally solve the disagreement and refocus everyone.

During the dispute a less talented artist will be called in, a not-so-satisfactorily rendered lion will appear, and Mac will try to take over the artistic chores with disastrous results.

Of course, the lion eats Adam, so there's another problem to deal with. As Chloe attempts to save the day (and the story) she'll encounter some misdirected characters from some other, more famous stories, but, naturally, they are no help, tied into literary convention as they are. What a superbly delightful mess!

Of course it all works out (kind of!) in the end and Chloe ends up with a shiny nickel for her efforts. Well, actually she ends up with an entire pile of quarters, nickels and dimes. This allows her to treat everyone to a ride on ... the merry-go-round…of course!

Supposedly this book is intended for children four years of age and up. I'd push that up to at least six if not eight! Actually, adults will find this highly unusual tale much to their liking as will many children. The droll humor (some might be more inclined to call it whacked-out) may be lost on some kiddies. But I have to believe those who have read a lot children's literature and/or also perhaps dabbled in the creative process will find this book a total hoot!

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