The Lion or the Mouse?: Who's Got Game?
Toni Morrison, Slade Morrison & Pascal Lemaitre
Scribner, 2003 (2003)
Reviewed by Hilary Williamson
've been intrigued by the big name authors writing picture books lately - just reviewed one by Margaret Atwood and then discovered this by Toni Morrison and her son Slade (with effective cartoon style illustrations by Pascal Lemaitre). It's part of a
Who's Got Game?
series of retellings of Aesop's fables (which also includes
Who's Got Game? : The Ant or the Grasshopper?
) and of course this one is a new take on the old story of the
The Lion and the Mouse
n the Morrison version, a lion struts around the savannah, ordering all to '
' as he tells them '
No ifs, maybes, ands or buts. / I am the baddest in all the land. / I do what I like. / I do what I can.
' Of course, he gets what he deserves in the form of a painful thorn in one of those big, dangerous paws. Given the lion's track record, no-one is very interested in his pleas for help. There are plenty of
Little Red Hen
' and excuses like '
a date to keep / a floor to sweep
inally a '
saddest in all the land
' lion persuades the small, weak mouse to help him. In a hilarious reversal, the mouse turns into a wannabe bully, who whines at the lion that the other animals laugh at him, while an older and wiser lion wonders '
Is he who wants to be a bully just scared to be himself?
' The format (cartoon and rhymes) is fun, but
Who's Got Game? : The Lion or the Mouse?
also has several important lessons for young and old - about bullies, wannabes and bystanders.
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