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Ellen's Lion: Twelve Stories: 05/01/16

Ellen's Lion: Twelve Stories by Crockett Johnson

Ellen's Lion: Twelve Stories by Crockett Johnson is a short chapter book about a young girl and her toy lion. They are in good company with Christopher Robin and the animals of the Hundred Acre Woods, and Calvin and Hobbes.

Each one of these stories has Ellen attempting to engage her lion in play using her imagination but he doesn't seem to want any part of it. In this book he's mostly an inanimate object, brought to life only through Ellen's imagination. In The Lion's Own Story he's given more of a personality through conversations with Ellen.

The lion continued to take things easy.

As the lion pretty much just sits there and yet manages to foil the great plots Ellen is cooking up (like scaring passengers on the train she's running), he reminds me of Mr. Buns, the sock toy created by Ruby in Ruby Gloom. Like Lion, Mr. Buns doesn't do much when looked at and yet seems to be behind all sorts of unexplained mayhem.

To the critics who call Ellen a clone of Harold (of the Harold and the Purple Crayon I say bah. Of course they look similar. They're drawn by the same person. It is just Crockett Johnson's way of drawing people, just as Lauren Child's children all look similar, or Marcus Pfister's Rainbow Fish was created by turning The Sleepy Owl sideways.

Artists reuse things and settle on specific styles all the time. Why Crockett Johnson should be held to some different standard makes no sense!

Four stars

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