Sonderbooks Book Review of

Chloe and the Lion

by Mac Barnett

pictures by Adam Rex

Chloe and the Lion

by Mac Barnett
pictures by Adam Rex

Review posted March 16, 2013.
Disney Hyperion Books, New York, 2012. 48 pages.
Starred Review

Meta-fiction does not always work, but Chloe and the Lion is joining the ranks of great meta-fiction picture books, along with David Wiesner's The Three Pigs, Mo Willems' We Are in a Book!, and even The Monster at the End of This Book, by Jon Stone.

The art is ever-so-interesting, mostly a three-dimensional scene made from paper cut-outs, but it includes plasticine figures of the author and illustrator. They introduce themselves and tell us about Chloe, who saves nickels and dimes to ride on the merry-go-round on the weekend.

The story is on the bizarre side...

But one week, Chloe found a lot of change.
So she was able to buy a lot of tickets.
And she rode around and around and around.
Which was why she got very dizzy.
And that's how Chloe ended up lost in the forest.

We read that a huge lion leapt out at Chloe from behind an oak tree, but in the picture we see a dragon, with smoke coming from its nostrils.

The author and illustrator have it out. Adam, the illustrator, thinks that a dragon is much cooler than a lion. In the end, Mac has no choice but to fire Adam and find someone else to illustrate the book. Once the illustrator has been changed, "The first thing the lion did was walk up to Adam and swallow him whole."

Unfortunately, the new artist, Hank Blowfeather, just isn't as good as Adam. And when Mac tries to draw instead? Disaster!

So, Chloe and Mac need to figure out a way to get Adam out of the belly of the lion and save the book. And a thank-you at the end would be nice, too.

This is another book where description simply doesn't do it justice. There are visual jokes throughout, a wide variety of styles, and a lot of thought about how a story works. This is a book worth reading again and again.

Oh, and I'll have to add it to my Pinterest board: Picture Books Where Someone Gets Eaten! (Even if it's not permanent, getting swallowed whole counts. Maybe I should put it on the Eating Thwarted page, too.)

Meta-fiction at its finest!