Monday, September 10, 2018

Review - Tawny Scrawny Lion

Tawny Scrawny Lion
by Kathryn Jackson
illustrated by Gustav Tenggren
Date: 1952
Publisher: Golden Books
Reading level: C
Book type: picture book
Pages: 24
Format: e-book
Source: library

Once there was a tawny scrawny lion who chased monkeys on Monday-kangaroos on Tuesday-zebras on Wednesday-bears on Thursday-camels on Friday-and on Saturday, elephants!"

So begins the funny, classic Golden story of a family of ten fat rabbits that teaches the hungry lion to eat carrot stew-so that he doesn't eat "them!"

(synopsis from Goodreads)

We used to have a fairly decent collection of Little Golden Books when I was a kid. We read them over and over, as kids are wont to do. I can remember certain ones like The Poky Little Puppy, but Tawny Scrawny Lion didn't really ring a bell. I'm not sure if I ever did read it as a child, because it wasn't familiar to me at all.

It really is nonsensical and silly. You've got a lion--presumably in the wild--who can somehow chase animals as diverse as kangaroos, bears, camels, and elephants. (I thought perhaps these animals were in a zoo, which would explain why they were all in one place; but that just brings up the question of why the lion was allowed to run free and chase all the other animals.) The big animals, tired of being chased, tell a clueless little rabbit to go talk to the hungry lion, with a sort of "nudge-nudge, wink-wink" thing going on behind his back (they assume he'll get eaten). This did not sit well with me, as it reminded me of some of the stories I've heard where kids tell their developmentally disabled classmates to do things they shouldn't. I don't think the rabbits had any disabilities, but they were gullible and naive; their survival seemed more like a stroke of luck than any cunning on their part. They manage to sate the lion with carrot stew and berries (conveniently ignoring the fact that he's an obligate carnivore), and everyone lives happily ever after since the lion's not trying to eat his neighbours anymore.

The illustrations are just weird. They're from the 1950s, and they look it. Also, the lion is just plain creepy. He goes through the book with this dazed expression on his face, as if he's high on some really weird drug (you can actually see what I mean just by looking at the cover).

There are much better picture books that have come out in the last 60+ years. I don't think I'd recommend this one, except maybe to people who are looking for another nostalgic addition to their Little Golden Books collection.

Premise: 3/5
Meter: n/a
Writing: 2/5
Illustrations: 2/5
Originality: 2/5

Enjoyment: 2/5

Overall: 2.17 out of 5

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