We found How to Be a Lion by Ed Vere on the “new books” shelf at our library last week and knew we had to share it quickly! Written and illustrated by Vere, the story uniquely starts with its words right there on the title page, where Vere makes us think right away, “The world is full of ideas… Some think this… others think that.”
We then meet a lion named Leonard, a lion determined to break the mold of fierce lions and be gentle instead. He thinks, he creates poems, and he embraces a duck named Marianne as a friend rather than a meal. They become fast and loyal friends, playing together but also pushing each other to think more broadly about the world. Until, that is, a pack of fierce lions makes Leonard question whether it’s ok for him to be gentle instead of fierce. He feels intense pressure to conform and turns to Marianne for help as he thinks through what to do. The message we are left with in the end is powerful to all and accessible to even the youngest readers:
“You said I must change, I must chomp Marianne,
but chomping your friends is a terrible plan.
Let nobody say
just ONE way is true.
There are so many ways
that you can be you.”
This book, targeted at ages 3-7, could be an impactful, enjoyable read for all ages. The bold, humorous illustrations (a lion on a scooter next to a duck on his her skateboard!) would definitely draw the attention of the youngest readers, and the important lesson could be used with children of any age. How to Be a Lion could be especially powerful with boys who feel pressure to be “fierce” but know there are kinder ways to be in this world!
If you liked this, check out:
The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf, ages 3-6
Tough Boris by Mom Fox, ages 4-8
Julian is a Mermaid by Jessica Love, ages 4-8
The Storybook Knight by Helen Docherty, ages 4-8