The Perils of Over-Consumption! A Hungry Lion, or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals by Lucy Ruth Commins
ONCE UPON A TIME THERE WAS A HUNGRY LION, A PENGUIN, A TURTLE, A CALICO KITTEN, A BROWN MOUSE, A BUNNY WITH FLOPPY EARS AND A BUNNY WITH UNFLOPPY EARS, A FROG, A BAT, A PIG, A SLIGHTLY BIGGER PIG, A WOOLLY SHEEP, A KOALA, AND ALSO A HEN.
Is everybody happy? Well... the animals smaller than the lion are wearing sickly smiles that are just a bit tentative.
After all, the lion is hungry, and they... are admittedly... well, prey.
With just one page turn, the assortment seems to have thinned a bit. Where is the smaller pig?
A second page turn inspires a similar question.
WAIT A SECOND!
Just one bunny? And what about the other, UM, whatchamacallems? Where are they....?
HEY! WHY IS IT SO DARK IN HERE?
The Hungry Lion pulls the string to turn on the light, revealing a huge, four-tiered cake. Par-tee! The relieved remaining animals dance and party hearty.
The lights switch off again, and when they return, the cake is intact, as is the turtle, but the only evidence of the rest of the animals is their party hats, scattered sinisterly on the floor.
And the Hungry Lion has the satisfied look of the cat that ate the canary.
WELL! LOOK WHO IS ARRIVING FASHIONABLY LATE!
Author Lucy Ruth Cummins has a critter with an even bigger appetite waiting in the wings (think big carnivorous dino with short forelegs) in her A Hungry Lion, or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals (Atheneum Books, 2016). It's a sly and wry fable in the style of Roald Dahl's slightly sinister tales, not to mention a timely lesson on the serious lack of forethought in consumption of natural resources. The turtle is the presumptive survivor in this tale, in which the narrator figuratively stops the story to address the reader in the current fashion, and Cummins' faux naif pencil, crayon, and marker drawings point up the piquant humor of her first picture book.
"Hilariously dark"... says Booklist. ",,,Wonderfully, and darkly hilarious," echoes Kirkus in a starred review.