The Lion & the Mouse

Story Summary

This wordless book retells the classic Aesop’s fable, but with an African setting. A mouse accidentally disturbs the quiet of a lion and expects to get eaten, but is released unharmed by the lion. The mouse remembers this great kindness and later repays the lion by chewing through ropes that have made the lion a prisoner. 

Talk Before Reading

Show your child the cover of The Lion & the Mouse and ask him to tell you what he knows about lions and mice. If you don’t get an answer, prompt with a few questions to get the conversation started:

Which animal is bigger? Which is stronger? Which one probably hides the most? 

As a wordless book, you and your child will tell the story through the pictures.

With this book we use the pictures to tell us the story. We’ll think of the words together!

Talk While Reading

The pictures in the beginning of The Lion & the Mouse help readers understand the dangers of being a mouse. Use some words that might be new to your child as you talk about the pictures together. Ask questions about the pictures to help your child add his own words to the story.

Look! The mouse escaped from the owl! She’s diving down a hole! Will she be safe now? 

What do you think that mouse is thinking while the lion holds her in his paw?

Oh, the mouse is back with her family. What will she tell them?

How did the mouse know that the lion was in trouble? Yes, that HUGE roar! Probably all the animals heard it!

The mouse had an idea about how to help. What was her plan?

Encourage your child to tell as much as he can of the story; eventually he may take over and tell the story on his own. Don’t be surprised if the retelling of this story becomes more and more detailed each time.

Talk to Learn Tip: Try this wordless book with mixed ages. A 2 or 3 year old with a 4 or 5 year old (or older child) will all have ideas that contribute to the telling of this story.

Talk Later

This Aesop’s fable has many retellings and adaptations. After The Lion & the Mouse, read another version of this fable and talk about what is the same and what is different.

Reading suggestion: Bernadette Watts has also retold and illustrated this fable, The Lion and the Mouse (North-South Books, 2007). Ask your child if he prefers one version over the other and why.


The Lion & the Mouse by Jerry Pickney. Little, Brown, and Company. 2009.

Winner of the Caldecott Medal for 2010.

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