Red Light, Green Lion
Red Light, Green Lion
Some days, we get exactly what we need, exactly when we need it.
And some days, nothing goes the way we thought it would. But then something happens that makes the journey easier.
Candace Ryan and Jennifer Yerkes’s Red Light, Green Lion is a playful picture book featuring a green lion and the various creatures it encounters while waiting at a red traffic light. The lion calmly and kindly deals with whatever surprises come its way—whether those surprises are pleasant or potentially hazardous. Ryan’s written text is presented in such a way that it invites readers to interact with the book using the end of one page to predict what word will begin the following page. Each double-page spread ends, Red light, green li-. The reader then predicts which word beginning with the letters l and i will be revealed at the turn of the page….lightning, lilac, library, lifesaver, livestock, and other l - i - words.
Jennifer Yerkes’s pastel and brush-pen illustrations are simple yet appealing. They consist of outline drawings with almost no colouring or shading. Green is the most predominant outline colour (including, but certainly not limited to, the green lion of the title), but this is augmented by blue streaks of rain, yellow birds, the touch of red on the traffic lights, and other occasional dashes of color. Combined with the clean and straightforward book design, it all makes for an attractive book. The visual appeal of Red Light, Green Lionis further augmented by an easy-to-read, large, clear font on a white backdrop.
The book contains some inspiring words of wisdom about dealing with whatever life throws in one’s direction. Red Light, Green Lion begins with the words, “Some days are not like most days.” This is certainly true of the day the lion experiences in the book but, regardless, that lion provides for all readers an example of grace, dignity, and poise. The green lion protagonist faces a flooding thunderstorm with composure and compassion and, in the end, everything turns out well.
Red Light, Green Lion is not destined to become an enduring classic. Neither the written text nor the artwork is sufficiently brilliant for that. Appreciation for the sentiments expressed also necessitates sophistication and maturity beyond what one would expect of the young target audience. Nonetheless, it is a worthwhile purchase. It is unique and creative. It takes careful book construction and attention-to-detail to make such a seemingly simple book so attractive. Candace Ryan, Jennifer Yerkes, and the design team at Kids Can Press should feel well-satisfied with their work with Red Light, Green Lion. It is a fun book that young children will enjoy and that their parents will enjoy sharing with them.
Dr. Gregory Bryan is a member of the Faculty of Education at the University of Manitoba. He specialises in literature for children.