On Thursday of this week, I had a hard time wresting a book from one of my seven-year-old students. She really, really wanted to take it home to show her big sister. I almost gave in, but since the book belongs to our city library, I thought I’d better wait and look into getting her a copy of her own. The book that captured her attention was, Chloe and the Lion by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Adam Rex.
Chloe is supposedly the main character in this book, but Mac and Adam take over the story. It begins on the title page where Mac is pictured saying, “This is me, Mac. I’m the author of this book.” On the next page, he introduces Adam, the illustrator. When Chloe appears, Adam is shown putting the final touches on her blue-haired, wide-eyed, bespectacled illustration. She’s charming. Chloe’s story begins when she searches for loose change to pay for a ride on the merry-go-round. And that leads to a walk through a dark forest filled with noises.
“And just as Chloe realized she’d been walking in circles, a huge lion leapt out from behind an oak tree.”
Only a lion doesn’t leap out in the illustration, a dragon does, because Adam thought a dragon would be cooler. My students jumped into the conversation at that point and said, “Yeah, way cooler.” The tension builds between the author and illustrator with some hilarious outcomes. Eventually, Chloe steps in (like any good main character) and saves the day.
This book fits in nicely with one of our Language Arts Standards. First graders in California are expected to recognize the title and author of a story. Our teachers have added to that standard and ask the children to identify the illustrator too. I imagine Adam would appreciate the idea. It only seems fair. By the end of the book, my students could easily identify the author and the illustrator and they had hopes of becoming one or the other themselves. Marie decided she wants to be an author; Justin wants to be an illustrator; and Dylan wants to be the main character. We can work with that. They have some adventurous ideas for a story with three main characters. You can probably guess their names. There won’t be any lions in this story, but the students are planning on lots and lots of dragons!