Sunday, April 29, 2012

Chloe and the Lion, by Mac Barnett & Adam Rex (ages 5 - 10)

I love stories that make children laugh AND know that kids are really smart. They don't just rely on slapstick humor or potty language (although those laughs are also fun). Some books make kids think to realize the full humor in a story, and the payoff is even bigger. Chloe and the Lion is a book that will bring lots of laughter, but also some interesting "a-ha" moments as kids think about cooperation and creativity, about pictures and words in the books they love. Best of all is the way that Mac Barnett and Adam Rex poke fun at themselves.
Chloe and the Lion
by Mac Barnett
illustrated by Adam Rex
NY: Disney / Hyperion, 2012
ages 5 - 10
available at your local library, favorite bookstore and on Amazon
Readers know from the very beginning that this picture book will be a bit different. "This is me, Mac. I'm the author of this book," waves a sweater-clad clay figure on the first page. Turn the page and you'll see Mac's friend Adam putting the finishing touches on Chloe, the main character of the book.

One day, Chloe ends up wandering through the dark forest, lost on her way home from the park. Just then, "a huge lion leapt out from behind an oak tree." But children will quickly see that the picture shows an enormous purple dragon, not a lion. Mac becomes very angry that Adam won't follow his directions:
"Well, look. The fact is I don't really care what YOU think. I'm the author of this book. You're the illustrator. That means I'm in charge of what happens, and you draw whatever I tell you."
Mac fires Adam, but runs into trouble finding the right person to illustrate his story. Children will laugh at Mac's attempts to draw his own pictures for the book, at little Chloe's attempt to talk some sense into Mac, and the many fractured fairy tale references. But most of all, kids will love the bickering and final resolution of these two friends as they create a truly funny story by working together.

Clay figures of Mac Barnett and Adam Rex

As in the best picture books, the words and the pictures work together in perfect harmony, building off of one another at each step. Rex combines clay figures, acrylic paintings, drawn sets, and photographs to create the artwork. Throughout, the artwork heightens the humor just perfectly, helping readers feel the separation between the artists and the story.

You'll definitely get a sense of how much fun Barnett and Rex had making this in their book trailer:

For other reviews, definitely check out Betsy Bird's review at Fuse #8. Also check out Teacher.Mother.Reader and MediaMacaroni. I especially love how MediaMacaroni talks about this as a perfect book for kids who think they may be too old for picture books.

The review copy was kindly sent by the publishers, Disney / Hyperion Books. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books (at no cost to you!). Thank you for your support.

Review ©2012 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the link to my blog in your post here. We loved Chloe and the Lion at my house. Mac and Adam are hilarious. I was thinking, wouldn't this be the perfect book to teach voice in writing? Thanks Again!