Chloe and the Lion

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Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Adam Rex (Disney Hyperion, 2012), is a unique book about artistic creation, not a book about a girl meeting a lion. It’s difficult to begin explaining. Let me start with a description of the artwork, as mentioned in the front matter:

The art in this book was made with basswood, balsa wood, oil and acrylic paints, pencil, Sculpey clay, modified doll clothing, toilet paper, photography, and photoshop.

Chloe and the Lion is the scene behind the scenes. It reminds the reader that Chloe is only real because the illustrator drew her and the author described her. In Chloe and the Lion, the author (Mac Barnett), the illustrator Adam Rex, and the fake illustrator Hank, are all integral parts of the story, even more so than Chloe, who is supposedly the focal point. When the illustrator Adam refuses to draw a lion (he thinks a dragon is cooler), the author fires him and attempts to draw the story himself, much to Chloe’s disgust. (“Actually, this is some terrible artwork, Mac,” she says.) But Chloe convinces Mac to keep trying, even if he’s not happy with the result.

I hope it’s clear that Chloe and the Lion is not your typical story. It’s fascinating on deeper levels (encouraging kids to keep trying, what is behind the making of a story, and so forth) but even more importantly, it’s simply hilarious to read. The illustrations are simply a wonderful blend of media, and I love the variety of lions and Chloes as the various artists try to continue the story. Let’s not forget Chloe in the end. The poor girl got the short-shrift in this book. Maybe she has another story coming up to make up for it. What say you, Mac and Adam?

Reviewed on November 9, 2012

About the author 

Rebecca Reid

Rebecca Reid is a homeschooling, stay-at-home mother seeking to make the journey of life-long learning fun by reading lots of good books. Rebecca Reads provides reviews of children's literature she has enjoyed with her children; nonfiction that enhances understanding of educational philosophies, history and more; and classical literature that Rebecca enjoys reading.

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