The Lion in Our Living Room (Emma Middleton, illus by Briony Stewart, Affirm)
Emma Middleton and Briony Stewart’s The Lion in Our Living Room is a gentle picture book that celebrates the spirit of imagination in the same vein as Judith Kerr’s The Tiger Who Came to Tea. Tom, his older sister Tilly and their white dog Bessie are warned by their father to be careful of who’s knocking on the door. Why? Because the lion might visit. While they ponder the possibility of the lion’s majestic presence, the kids go about their domestic duties in anticipation. Middleton’s rhyme scheme makes this a perfect picture book for reading aloud to preschoolers, who will enjoy the suspense over the arrival of the lion, just as the characters do. Soft pencil illustrations by Stewart happily show all the clutter of domestic life. There’s a clue on the first page as to the identity of the lion—a lion mask is on the living room floor—and it’s the father who eventually dons the disguise and bounds after his kids, playing chasey and hide-and-seek, and giving them rides on his back. This book is a sweet look at a father-child relationship, which reinforces the importance of creativity and play.
Thuy On is a freelance arts journalist and reviewer and the books editor of the Big Issue