The Lion and the Bird (Enchanted Lion, 2014)
A lion and a bird are not the most obvious of friends. One big, shaggy, and growly, and one small, sleek, and flit-about-y.
But not these two. This lion has rosy cheeks which are insta-endearing and wanders out to his work. Just a lion, working in the garden. That’s when he spots an injured bird. Same insta-endearing rosy cheeks.
The lion springs to action. The bird smiles, but the flock has flown away. Marianne Dubuc varies the art on the page. Some spot illustrations, some full-bleed. This paces the small, quiet action of the story – the spots create sequential scenes on one spread, moving us forward in time, a full-bleed image slows us down into one moment on the same physical space. The two spend the winter together, ice-fishing and fire-watching. It’s cold. But:
No more spots, no more full-bleed. Only white space.
We slow way down. We worry about what’s to come.
But Spring has to come. The flock has to return.
The page turn here is filled with emotion. We see the lion saying a bittersweet goodbye. (How he’s holding his hat in honor is just the most beautiful thing.) And then, as if we are the flock, he gets smaller. Farther away. Lots of white space. Time goes on. (Sometimes the seasons are like that.)
Winter returns, and so does his friend.
In this book, white space moves the story and white space is the story. The moments that seem the most like nothing might actually be the moments that are the most something.
That bird’s solitary trill piercing the air reminds me a bit of this art installation. It’s a combination of movement, music, and art that leaves room for the story in the space left behind. This reminds me of the lion, waiting and listening and hoping.
PS: I’m heading to Las Vegas this weekend for ALA. Will you be there? Would love to say hello!
Review copy provided by the publisher. All thoughts my own.