Some people think there's only one way to be a lion, but Leonard is different. A gentle, Ferdinand-like soul, he's likely to be found on his "thinking hill," pondering and making poems. Lions usually devour ducks, but when Leonard meets web-footed Marianne, he asks for help with a poem he's writing, and the two become close friends, taking long walks and looking at the stars. When bullying lions try to intimidate Leonard into behaving the way other lions do ("Not chomping a duck? You've gone too far!"), Leonard and Marianne collaborate on a declaration in verse: "If there must be a must, / then this we must try.../ Why don't you, be you.../ And I, will be I." The story's confiding, narrative voice draws readers in close, while bold, scrabbly ink lines by British author-illustrator Vere (the Max picture books) add life and giggles to Leonard and Marianne's friendship. Vere's fable makes a watertight--and charming--case for ignoring the pressures of conformity. Ages 4-8. Agent: Barry Goldblatt Literary. (June)Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.
PreS-Gr 3--Leonard is a lion like no other. Everyone thinks he should be a fierce and accomplished hunter. Instead, Leonard is gentle with a gift for putting words together in beautiful and creative ways. Leonard's friendship with Marianne, a poetic duck, surprises and infuriates many. Will Leonard and Marianne be able to withstand the judgment of others and grow their unique and lasting bond of friendship? This is a book that challenges children's assumptions and demonstrates that situations look different from different perspectives. It champions staying true to oneself and sticking to one's principles and by one's friends regardless of what others think. The book also beautifully highlights the power and beauty of the written and spoken word. The thick black outlines and blocks of reds, yellows, and oranges against stark black-and-white backgrounds represent the boldness in both text and message. VERDICT Children will feel empowered after reading such a deliberate story of unyielding strength and self-awareness. Thoughtful and provocative words to live by.--Amy Shepherd, St. Anne's Episcopal School, Middleton, DECopyright 2018 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.