Itty-Bitty Kitty Corn / The Three Happy Lions

Itty-Bitty Kitty Corn
Shannon Hale and Leuyen Pham
Abrams Books for Young Readers

Mere kitty cat, or is she a unicorn?

Kitty has an overwhelming desire to be a unicorn like the one on her poster. So much so that she fashions a paper horn for her head and what she sees in the mirror reflects her unicorn-ness – there’s no disputing that. Or is there? Certainly there is when it comes to Parakeet and Gecko, a pair of denigrating naysayers if ever.

Nonetheless Kitty continues undaunted until come sundown she’s certain the long shadow has convinced the killjoys. Not so though for this shadow belongs to … a unicorn.

Now Kitty feels totally dejected until this compassionate creature does something that completely changes things

allowing Kitty to see herself as the fabulous creature she truly is – not just a kitty but a Kitty-Corn, majestic, magnificent and quite perfect … just as she is.

From two of the creators of The Princess in Black series this is an enchanting tale of acceptance and true friendship: make sure you read from the front endpapers to the back to get the entire story though.

Also with a theme of finding your true self is

The Three Happy Lions
Louise Fatio and Roger Duvoisin
Scallywag Press

First published over sixty years ago and now reprinted for a new audience is this classic tale that tells what happens after Happy Lions One and Two produce an offspring that they name Francois.

Having pondered upon what their cub might do with his life, fate takes a hand in the form of a rich lady who visits the zoo and expresses a wish to have Francois as a pet. Somewhat reluctantly, his parents agree and so begins a pleasant life of pampering.

But like all lion cubs, Francois keeps on growing until the lady decides he’s become too big and she gives him to her friend Monsieur Tambour, a circus owner. However, the creature fails to become either sufficiently ferocious or a flaming hoop jumper and so back to the zoo he goes.

All the while though, Francois has harboured a yen. Perhaps now is the time to follow his true calling: he certainly has a good role model in his namesake…

With its occasional French phrases and its enchanting illustrations it’s good to see this book back in print again. I loved The Happy Lion as a child but was not familiar with this story of being true to yourself.

Say Goodbye … Say Hello / The Happy Lion Roars

Say Goodbye … Say Hello
Cori Doerrfeld
Scallywag Press

Change is inevitable no matter what, and young children often find transitions tricky.

Through her gentle, lively illustrations and soft-spoken, simply expressed text, Cori Doerrfeld offers little ones a story exploring  the nature of change and the possibilities that embracing it can offer.

Stella, while reluctant to leave her mum and board the bus, soon discovers a new friend, Charlie, once she gets to school.

Before long the two are almost inseparable. We follow them through the seasons and goodbye summer means hello to autumn and goodbye to outside means hello to inside;
’Goodbye to snowmen … is hello to puddles!’;

and through the days when “goodbye to long walks, butterflies and the sun … is hello to long talks … fireflies and … the stars.’

But then, comes something much more difficult for Stella to cope with: the need to say goodbye to her special friend, when Charlie moves away and holding tight must be followed by letting go.

Physically yes, but not completely, for Stella is soon busy writing and posting a letter to her friend.

There’s also the possibility of someone else on the horizon, not a replacement for Charlie, but perhaps a new friendship for the making…

Splendidly expressive illustrations show both the ups and downs of change, as well as the passage of time. Ultimately however, however difficult some changes might be, as the story closes we’re given an indication of Stella’s resilience as she greets a newcomer …
A gorgeously warm portrayal of friendship, loss and the possibilities of new beginnings.

Completely different but also with a focus on friendship and new beginnings is this oldie but goodie:

The Happy Lion Roars
Louise Fatio and Roger Duvoisin
Scallywag Press

Nostalgia rules in this Happy Lion story I remember from my childhood. In this book the Happy Lion is most definitely not living up to his name, spending much of his time looking downright miserable, so much so that a doctor is called. He merely prescribes pills and departs; but the medication is totally ineffective in the face of loneliness for that is what is wrong with the Happy Lion.

Then one day into town comes a small circus and he and his friend Francois go to watch the acts. However, the Happy Lion has eyes only for the Beautiful Lioness in her cage.

Suddenly his sadness is a thing of the past and one night he goes to the cage of the Beautiful Lioness, opens the door and together they walk through the park back to his home.
A search ensues,

followed by some subterfuge, the Happy Lion’s loudest ever roar, and finally, thanks to Francois, a deal leaving not one, but two felines exceedingly happy.

Superb art and a lovely story where friendship and freedom reign supreme, characterise this classic re-issue.

I Am A Tiger / The Happy Lion

I Am A Tiger
Karl Newson and Ross Collins
Macmillan Children’s Books

Ignorance? Bravado? Or playfulness? What is driving Karl’s Mouse protagonist to insist that he’s a tiger. Fox, racoon, snake and parrot in turn, challenge the small creature to prove himself but his lack of size, stripes and tree climbing skills do nothing to convince the others of his claim and that growl is – let’s say somewhat feeble.

Suddenly along comes another animal proclaiming …

The ‘not-tiger’ then goes on to try and persuade the stripy character that HE is in fact a mouse with some deft moves.

These he follows with some further ridiculousness

before departing in search of lunch.

This sees our little grey friend heading towards a watery place wherein he spies his reflection and there he learns the error of his claims …

With it’s wonderful surprise finale, this is a grrralectable piece of comic theatre picture book style delivered through Karl’s droll mouse narrative and Ross Collins’ brilliantly expressive scenes.

Hilarious, and I look forward to the next of the promised Karl/Ross creations; they’ve certainly set the bar pretty high with this one. Young listeners will absolutely love it and it’s a gift for those who enjoy throwing themselves into story sharing.

The Happy Lion
Louise Fatio and Roger Duvoisin
Scallywag Press

This is a new edition of a classic story originally published in the 1950s and is set in a French town.

In that town is a zoo, the home of the Happy Lion. He leads a contented life there with daily visits from friends young and not so young, as well as being entertained by the town’s band on Sundays during the summer.

One day, the keeper forgets to close the door and the lion decides to go out and visit all those kind people who were his regular visitors.

Their reactions however are not at all what the Happy Lion expects; he’s barely acknowledged by the animals and the humans are terrified.

Bemused he stops, meditates, concludes, “this must be the way people behave when they are not in the zoo” and continues on his way hoping to find a friend.

He does so, after some drama involving a fire engine, firefighters and their very long hose; and all ends happily with the Happy Lion and his young friend walking back to the zoo together …

With alternate black and white, and three-colour, textured spreads, Duvoisin’s illustrations – wonderful, sketchy, smudgy scenes – still hold their magical charm – for this reviewer certainly – providing the perfect complement to Fatio’s tale.