Lion Lullaby by Kate Banks, illustrated by Lauren Tobia

Lion Lullaby by Kate Banks, illustrated by Lauren Tobia. Candlewick Press, 2021. 9781536209822

Rating:  1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 4

Format: Hardcover picture book

What did you like about the book? In the opening illustration of this beautiful bedtime book, as dusk falls across the savanna, a family of little lion cubs frolics around a tree before heading home to their pride for bedtime.  Each subsequent page spread features an increasing number of cubs wending their way past a variety of creatures and crossing streams and plains before all ten arrive safely with their mothers to curl up together and sleep.   

Varying rhyme schemes and the repeated phrase “Oh, little lions, hurry on home” bring a soothing tone to this lyrical lullaby.  The text beautifully describes everything the cubs sense on their journey – what they see as much as the sounds they hear and things they feel, from the sighing wind to the trembling ground under a herd of wildebeest.  The full-bleed, earth-toned illustrations of the setting and the denizens of the savanna grow progressively darker as night sets in, which enhances the overall gentleness of the book’s tone.  Animals are shown in realistic movement and behavior, although one might wonder why the cubs don’t try to pounce on the monkeys and meerkats they see.  Close-ups of the cubs’ faces are certainly ‘awww’-inspiring, and background details of other creatures will encourage close inspection.  A lovely bedtime choice for animal lovers everywhere, which might encourage kids to want to learn more about African animals and their habitat.

Anything you did not like about the book?  No

To whom would you recommend this book?  Parents and teachers of preschool-age children will want to share this with their adventurous charges who have enjoyed other animal books by the author or such classics as Time for Bed by Mem Fox.  It might be useful in a classroom setting with preschoolers and kindergarteners who are learning about animals and habitats. 

Who should buy this book? Preschools, public and elementary school libraries

Where would you shelve it?  Picture books

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  No

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City:  Leigh Russell King, Lincoln Street School, Northborough, Massachusetts.

Date of review: February 25, 2022

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