I found How to Hide a Lion in Auckland on the last day of our trip. It’s a sweet little tale about a lion who goes out shopping and immediately frightens the townspeople away. He himself is scared so he runs and runs until he finds himself in a little girl’s yard, hiding in her playhouse. Of course that’s just silly, a huge lion won’t fit in a playhouse, so the little girl invites him in and offers to hide him. Thus begins the friendship between Iris and the lion.
They spend their days alternating between trying to hide the lion from Iris’s parents and losing themselves playing together in Iris’s room.
Of course, all good things must come to an end and the lion is found out by Iris’s mother and he runs away, only to eventually save the town from a duo of dastardly thieves, becoming a hero.
One of my favorite parts of this book is when Iris and the lion are curled up with a story before Iris’s mother comes along.
Then she read him his favourite story. It was about a tiger who came to tea. He fell asleep halfway through, because lions sleep a lot.
It’s a reference to the 1968 book The Tiger Who Came to Tea, by Judith Kerr. A tiger unexpectedly shows up to tea at a little girl’s house but is invited in and ends up eating everything in the cupboards. What grabs me about that is that How to Hide a Lion reeks of 1968 somehow, though it was only published this past August. Something about the charming but basic illustrations, the matter-of-fact descriptions of a lion and a little girl just hanging out together and their biggest concern being that he’s so big that he won’t quite fit behind the shower curtain. It’s not ironic or clever the way so many modern picture books are, it’s just kind of…classic. And that is what it ought to become.