32pp., hbk., RRP $A27.99
As night falls in the savannah and “dusk paints stripes across the sky”, ten little lions know it is time to head to bed. But as they make their way, there are all sorts of sights and sounds to distract them – a monkey “bouncing a babe on its knee”; a cobra waving its tail, zebras braying, and a tree frog peeping; there is a honeybee nest to inspect; sand dunes and a stream to navigate; elephants tramping along and wildebeests running. There is as much adventure on the journey home as there has been in the day. But at last, they are together and cuddled together, they listen to “evening’s lullaby,” and sleep “cuddled by night.”
Just as night envelops the little lions in its all-embracing spread, so too the author embraces much in this lyrical lullaby. As well as the language which turns the ordinary into the extraordinary – “dusk paints stripes across the sky” is a picturesque phrase that could spark a lesson in itself with students suggesting other ways to describe the twilight sky – the rhythm of the language draws the reader in with its gentle cadence echoed in the illustrations which transition gradually from golds, browns, and greens to dreamy mauves, violets, and greys as the light changes and darkness draws closer.
For those unfamiliar with the habitats and inhabitants of the African savannah, there are geographical and biological discoveries to investigate and woven into it all is a counting book with purpose and context. So while this might have been intended initially to lull little ones as they draw the curtains on their day – even lions have to sleep – it is one that can be shared across the ages with something new for each.