Picture Book Reviews · Picture Books

Review: The Snow Lion by Jim Helmore and Richard Jones

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New starts are difficult. When Caro and her Mum move to a new house, they start with a blank canvas. New home, new neighbours, new friends. At first Caro is afraid, but then she meets the Snow Lion. They play together until Caro is settled into the neighbourhood.

img_4784I love how the house reflects Caro’s situation. When they arrive, its walls are white and its rooms bare. As they meet people and get settled, they add colour to the walls. There is a lovely scene where Caro’s new friends are invited to help paint the walls. Meeting people may seem scary at first, but friendship and company bring colour to our lives. 

The Snow Lion himself is slightly ethereal, in a way which reminds me of Raymond Briggs’s characters. The Snow Lion is not here to stay. Lions belong outdoors, but they might pay a visit to give us courage. That doesn’t mean he won’t be close-by. Throughout the book the Lion can be spotted in the clouds, and snow. This makes a lovely hide-and-seek game for young readers, and also suggests that courage is always on the edge of fear. 

img_4788No adults are shown in the illustrations, and Mum is the only adult mentioned. This is a child’s eye view of the world. Mum is there to help and instruct. Otherwise the things of note are other children, animals and play. It shows a very young person’s world in a very realistic way, and it reminded me what it was really like to be knee-high. 

I am a huge fan of Richard Jones’s art, and am delighted to see the nature books he has produced which will be released in 2018. His style is understated and mature, but also gentle and warm. The contrast between the fear in the narrative and the warmth in his illustrations is striking. 

 

Louise Nettleton

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