My first thought after finishing this book: how could so many surprises be packed into 32 pages? A Hungry Lion or a Dwindling Assortment of Animals begins with a gathering that includes “a bunny with floppy ears and a bunny with un-floppy ears…a pig, a slightly bigger pig, [and] a woolly sheep” among others. As their numbers start slowly “dwindling,” even the narrator is confused, restarting the tale with the classic “Once upon a time” on five occasions. Maybe the ever-present hungry lion is responsible for the reduction in the number of animals. But maybe he isn’t.
Cummins, who is both the author and illustrator, combines text and images beautifully to build suspense. The cunning lion gets in the reader’s face in a full page spread after all of the other animals have gone missing and a solid page of darkness is used to highlight the next plot twist.
The plain textured backgrounds, uniquely painted for each page, allow the characters and their changing numbers to pop, but remain visually interesting and are the perfect accompaniment to the cute sketchy images.
While darkly humorous, the narrative style and bright illustrations keep the tale light hearted and very fun.