Helen Stephens must surely have had Louise Fatio and Roger Duvoisin's "The Happy Lion" (1954) as distant inspiration for the great cat in "How to Hide a Lion" (Henry Holt, 32 pages, $16.99). The two lions could be brothers, with their long noses, demurely downcast eyes and beautiful manners in the presence of hysterical humans.
Here, as in the Fatio/Duvoisin tale, a civilised lion trots into town and finds to his surprise that people react with panic. In this case, the lion hides--first with a friendly little girl, later between stone lions--until winning everyone over with a spontaneous act of heroism.
(The Wall Street Journal)
*As a book with a strong and gentle animal hero and fetching illustrations, this can stand proudly on a shelf with such classics as Crictor, The Story of Ferdinand and, of course, Andy and the Lion. (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)
* Cleverly, tenderly, [Stephens] touches on some big emotions for young readers: loneliness, rejection, sadness and fear. Yet it's her gentle humour and the characters' innocence, loyalty and love that triumph. When readers reach the last spread . . . they will ask for more, again and again. Just dazzling. (Kirkus Reviews, starred review on Fleabag)
This down-on-his-luck mutt has cuteness in spades (Booklist on Fleabag)
The illustrations are bright and happy, picturing an appealing little mutt with fleas flying over his head. He looks like just the right sort of dog for a boy. An enjoyable story for groups or bedtime sharing. (School Library Journal on Fleabag)
Fine writing, an engaging story and appealing art create a winning picture book. Stephens' final page shows her sketches, drawn in a shelter, of the original fleabag. Grade: A- (Cleveland Plain Dealer on Fleabag)
Flynn and his people are not the only lucky, happy people involved in this story, and that is what makes Fleabag a lovable choice. (Florida Times-Union on Fleabag)