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2010 Caldecott Medal Winner

The Lion and the Mouse
illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

This classic Aesop fable of kindness being rewarded with kindness, is told without words through the wonderful pencil and watercolor illustrations of Jerry Pinkney. The king of the jungle decides to let a small mouse, who has disrupted his nap, go free. Later when the lion is caught in a net, it is the mouse that is able to safely free the lion. The movement, actions, and emotions of the animals are all perfectly clear without words. The very few words that do appear in the illustrations are those of sounds: an owl’s haunted call, the mouse’s tiny squeak, and the lion’s angry roar. Pinkney’s illustrations are very much deserving of the Caldecott Medal this book received.

Visit Jerry Pinkney’s studio here.


One Response to “2010 Caldecott Medal Winner”

  1. The Lion and the Mouse is such a wonderful book. So glad it won the Caldecott.I think the most stikring thing about it for me is the space Pinkney opens up for a subtle reinterpretation of the traditional moral of Aesop’s fable. The traditional moral: “Little friends may prove great friends.” Traditionally, then, the story is meant to embolden the meek (“You may be a great friend one day!”) and to encourage the proud to look out for the little guy.However, in Pinkney’s version, the moral is not so tightly constrained, largely because the only words Pinkney uses are onomatopoeias. This textually minimal approach lets the story breath in new ways, broadening the possibilities for the story’s moral. While the range of possibilities still includes the traditional moral, in my view the most obvious teaching of Pinkney’s version seems to be that mercy is a virtue. In other words, the moral of Pinkney’s version is that mercy is a good character trait that human beings ought to embody.The central aspect of Pinkney’s version that shifts the book toward this interpretation is that since there is no dialogue, we do not get the lion laughing derisively when the mouse suggests that the lion may need her help one day. Rather, all we see is the lion letting the mouse go free, which looks more like an act of mercy than an act inspired by the lion’s arrogant amusement (as in the traditional telling). Moreover, as a result, the mouse’s liberating action looks less like mere payback and more like mercy as well.

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