Jerry Pinkney is one of the most distinguished contemporary African-American illustrators working on children's books. And with more than a hundred titles to his credit---both solo projects and collaborations with authors like Julius Lester---he is undoubtedly the most prolific. Working primarily in watercolor, pencil, and colored pencil, his signature style is both gentle and incredibly detailed; while his thematic range is quite broad, folktales are among his favorite subjects.
The Lion and the Mouse is, visually speaking, one of the most stunning books in our personal collection. Its title characters are both very realistic and amazingly expressive, and his representation of the African Serengeti they inhabit vivdly captures the "awesome yet fragile" (to quote the Artist's Note) qualities of that place.
One of the most unusual features of Pinkney's retelling of Aesop's fable is that it is nearly wordless, making it an endlessly interactive text. Only six different "words"---all of them animal sounds---are used, and even these quite sparingly but with powerful effect.
Miss E's take: This time around, her favorite part was the endpaper illustration of the two animal families together. In particular, she was delighted by a lion cub gnawing on its mother's tail. "That's totally a first-born lion!" she exclaimed. [As it turns out, she meant "newborn," but I thought her phrasing was amusing and probably more than a little apt.]
Addendum (completely unrelated to Lion and the Mouse): A ginormous "Thank You" to web designer Josh Frank of Black Frame Media for resizing my obnoxiously large title image. Without me even needing to ask. It's awesome to have friends who are both talented and generous with their expertise.