BOOK REVIEW: The Lion in our Living Room
There’s something incredibly special about picture books which are themed around interactive play and the unbreakable bond between parents and their children, and The Lion in our Living Room, published by Affirm Press, exhibits this perfectly.
The gentle book chronicles the adventures and anticipation of two siblings as they wait to see if a lion might come to visit. Clues about the identity of this “lion” are given on the first spread and, after the suspense has built up throughout, readers discover that it’s the father who eventually dons a lion mask and chases, plays with, and bounds after the children. The book is full of references to creative, imaginative play, something which is particularly enticing in this technologically-driven day and age.
Written by Emma Middleton (who is also a talented illustrator), the rhyming text in this story is rhythmical, lyrical and has such a clever refrain repeated throughout that I found it stuck in my head for hours after each reading. As a result, I know kids will adore the book, and soon be asking for parents and other readers to sing-song their way through the story over and over again. (Note that the book works well as a read-aloud for groups too, so teachers and librarians will find it a great addition to their collection.)
While The Lion in our Living Room provides a lovely look at father-child relationships and therefore makes for a great Father’s Day gift or Christmas present for new dads, it will also work well for mothers, grandparents and other readers who can pick it up when it’s time for some special bonding time with children. The book prompts creative play such as fun games, activities, songs and craft sessions too.
The story also shows families going about their day and performing common domestic tasks, which means that kids of many ages and backgrounds will instantly identify. Plus, the text and illustrations are gentle enough that this could make the perfect bedtime read.
The pictures in The Lion in our Living Room were created using coloured pencils by illustrator Briony Stewart, and they have a classic, inviting style that really helps to evoke the loving family dynamic conveyed in the text. The full-of-life pictures are also brimming with texture and layers. One of the most fabulous things about the illustrations is that each spread features many hidden images of lions for children to pick up on. This not only adds brilliantly to the story, but also gives kids something else to draw them back for regular re-reads.
I was thrilled to find out, too, that a follow-up picture book, by the same creative team, will be published by Affirm Press in time for Mother’s Day in May 2018. Titled The Bear in our Backyard, this is sure to be a hit with mums and grandmas in particular.
The Lion in our Living Room is recommended for children aged around three years and up.
Note that a complimentary copy of the book was provided by the publisher in return for an honest review.