Staff Book Review – A Hungry Lion, Ready Steady Mo, Animal Babies and Life is Magic

2016 has been a great year for Children’s picture books. Searching for books for storytime has revealed some bright and sparkling gems. Here are four books that have particularly caught my eye! 



A Hungry Lion’, written and illustrated by Lucy Ruth Cummins starts with the traditional ‘Once upon a time…’ lulling you into a false sense of security. A menagerie of adorable animals are introduced into the company of a very smug and hungry carnivorous lion.

Of course we all know where this will lead. The animals start to disappear, very quickly and the narrator is forced to reintroduce the lion and the dwindling assortment of animals. The ungrateful lion even gets to enjoy a birthday cake brought especially to him by the animals.

Don’t worry though, the lion soon gets a taste of his own medicine! The thick gravelly pencil lines filled loosely with bright paint brings the fairly static creatures to life and the lion turning the lights on and off breaks up the narrative and gives the reader a refreshing surprise. ‘A Hungry Lion’ is a great, fun book.


Ready Steady Mo’ is written by the Olympic gold medallist Mo Farah and award winning author Kes Grey. The book is illustrated by Marta Kissi. The theme running throughout the picture book (mind the pun), is running, right to the very end. Little Mo takes the reader on a run from our cosy homes to the outside world and even into space. He gathers more and more enthused runners on his way.


The book rhymes which is always a bonus when you’re reading to children and getting them involved but it also creates a rhythm which works well with the book’s subject. You feel as if you’re running with him. The illustrations are dynamic and make use of bright, bold primary colours. The wide eyes and button noses are endearing and friendly but not in an old fashioned sense. The text follows the winding bends and races up the pages along with the characters. The book makes a point of including children of different ethnic backgrounds, apt as Mo is of Somali descent. A great book with a great message about keeping active, without being too obvious.




Animal Babies’ written and illustrated by Thomas Flintham is another one that rhymes. The best feature of this book, by far, is the bold graphic illustrations which works well, dealing with a traditional picture book theme.

The bold, unconventional combinations of colour with deep purple cows and bright red cats is very striking. The text is big and the animals featured on the spread are written in bold along with the names of the baby animals, enhancing the educative element of the book.




Life Is Magic’ is written and illustrated by Meg McLaren. The star of the show is a little rabbit named Houdini, assistant to the famous Monsieur Lapin. He has to step in when the poor man has accidentally turned into a rabbit! Houdini proves to be a superb assistant and magician. The reader is left eagerly awaiting his greatest trick yet – turning Monsieur Lapin back to his original self. The limited colour palette creates a sense of harmony.

The book has a great narrative flow making use of comic book style panels. Each spread is varied and presents a different composition. Sound effects, action words and spells are made to good use, often sprawling across a whole spread or repeated like the clapping of the audience. The typefaces used in the posters pasted onto the walls and the sound effects really help immerse you into the world.


By Akbar – Uxbridge Library


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