Calling All Lions! Lion Lion by Miriam Bush
A boy steps out of his house and calls loudly, but when a real, full-grown lion answers his call, he looks very surprised! Clearly, this isn't the Lion he expected.
Lion says, "What are you doing?"
"Trying to find Lion. What about YOU?" the boy answers.
"I am looking for lunch."
Coming from a lion, that sounds ominous. Trying to look unflustered, the boy looks around for lunch possibilities.
"Care for some grass?"
The Lion ventures into the grass, but a snapping turtle grabs his foot.
The Lion declares the grass too "snappy." Offered some mushrooms, he steps on a prickly hedgehog snacking on the 'shrooms and declines the offer as too splintery.
The berry bushes are stinky from some skunks who have been sampling the fruit. Flowers, maybe?
The Lion points out that a hummingbird has gotten there first.
"Feathers make me sneeze!"
Aha! Suddenly the boy's anxious look changes to a crafty one. Hmmm! He has a plan. If he can make the Lion sneeze....
Miriam Busch's Lion, Lion (HarperCollins, 2014) has a surprise ending (with a happy MEW from the boy's rescued cat Lion) that close readers may have already figured out, involving feathers and the big red flashlight in the boy's back pocket.Illustrator Larry Day is in on the joke, of course, and offers visual clues that foreshadow the happy reunion, not to mention the little mouse on every page. (Note: No hummingbirds, skunks, hedgehogs, turtles--or cats-were harmed in the making of this story!)
The Bulletin for Children's Books call this one downright "Sendakian," and Kirkus says, "The grand joke comes at the end, when the clever boy forces the lion to sneeze, and there is another play on the same theme on the very last page. Sly, dark humor for little ones—at its best."