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Cover image for How to hide a lion
How to hide a lion
1st American edition.
New York : Henry Holt and Co., 2013.
Physical Description:
1 volume (unpaged) : color illustrations ; 26 x 28 cm
Series title(s):
Number in series:
Iris understands that grown-ups are afraid of lions, but when she finds one in her playhouse she knows he is kind, so she keeps him hidden from her parents for as long as possible.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 2.9 0.5 162310.

Accelerated Reader Grades K-4 2.9 0.5 Quiz 162310 English fiction.


Call Number
JP Ste
JP Ste

On Order



How does a very small girl hide a very large lion? It's not easy, but Iris has to do her best, because moms and dads can be funny about having a lion in the house. Luckily, there are lots of good places to hide a lion--behind the shower curtain, in your bed, and even up a tree. But can Iris hide her lion forever?

With Helen Stephens's timeless art and elegant text, readers will fall in love with Iris and her lion.

Author Notes

Helen Stephens likes to draw in a sketchbook every day, and often these sketchbook drawings lead to new picture book ideas. Helen studied illustration at Glasgow School of Art and has worked as a freelance illustrator and as an editorial illustrator. She lives in London.

Reviews 5

School Library Journal Review

PreS-Gr 2-Purchasing a hat on a hot day is a perfectly ordinary errand-unless you're a lion. When this particular shopper is chased off the premises by understandably terrified townspeople, he finds refuge in the playhouse of a little girl. Being the brave and practical sort, Iris determines that due to her fugitive's large size, he must be hidden indoors. She combs his mane, tends to a wounded paw, and comforts and conceals him because, as everyone knows, "moms and dads can be funny about having a lion in the house." Readers get the impression that this arrangement could go on indefinitely if it weren't for the fact that lions are difficult to move when sleeping-which they do "a lot." The lion is roused by the shrieks of Iris's surprised mother and is forced to find a new hiding spot masquerading between two stone lions in front of the town hall. His watchful nature, and ability to pin down burglars, ultimately makes him a town hero. He proudly marches in a parade held in his honor and claims his reward: the hat he was searching for in the first place. Bright, cheerful sketches accompany this engaging plot filled with pluck, tenderness, and just a dash of English whimsy. Without the slightest bit of treacle and a great deal of humor, Stephens weaves a story about bravery and kindness that adults and children will reach for again and again.-Jenna Boles, Greene County Public Library, Beavercreek, OH (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Horn Book Review

When a bright yellow lion strolls into town to buy a hat, the townspeople don't react well at all. A little girl named Iris offers the lion refuge, and the two become fast friends. All is well until Iris's mom discovers the creature, because, as the deadpan narrator quips, "moms and dads can be funny about having a lion in the house." Forced to withdraw from Iris's place, the lion finds a new hiding spot that leaves him in the perfect position to do a good deed, which wins over the hearts of the town and finally gets him his new hat. The art, both single pages and double-page spreads, moves the story along at a jaunty pace. Text and art pay homage to classic picture books both indirectly and directly, including a nod to Judith Kerr's The Tiger Who Came to Tea (1968). Heavy stock, detailed endpapers, and a second cover illustration hiding under the book jacket complete this story-hour special. julie roach (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

A little girl named Iris proves herself smarter than the grown-ups around her as she secretly cares for a lion she knows to be kind--a lion who eventually saves the town from burglary. All the lion wants as he strolls into town is to purchase a hat, but he soon finds himself fleeing from terrified, broom-androlling-pinarmed townspeople (one of whom brandishes a loaf of bread). Iris recognizes his gentleness, but it isn't easy to hide him. And parents "can be funny about having a lion in the house." A series of hilarious pictures, reminiscent of the energetic watercolor art of Ludwig Bemelmans and H.A. Rey, vividly demonstrates that the lion is too big, too fluffy and too heavy for easy camouflage. A magnificent double-page spread of Iris with an open book, leaning against the napping lion, recalls the pet Zeep picture in Dr. Seuss' One Fish Two Fish: Both are pictures of deep contentment. After the lion saves the town, his one request to the grateful citizens takes the story full circle. The pages are sturdy, and the endpapers offer entertaining sketches of Iris and her enormous feline friend. As a book with a strong and gentle animal hero and fetching illustrations, this can stand proudly on a shelf with such classics as Crictor, The Story of Ferdinand and, of course, Andy and the Lion. (Picture book. 3-7)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

Iris is a very little girl and a lion is a very large animal, but Iris cleverly manages to hide one in her house. After the lion runs away from angry townspeople he's in town to buy a hat the gentle creature seeks refuge in Iris' backyard. The girl sneaks him past her mom and dad and tries to make him as inconspicuous as possible; when her mom is brushing her teeth, for instance, the lion is hiding in the bathtub. Soon, of course, the jig is up, and the lion runs back into town, posing as a statue between two stone lions. From this vantage point, he has a clear view of robbers who break into the town hall and his ROAR! alerts police. The lion is declared a hero and presented with his most coveted item: a hat. Stephens' mild-mannered lion, with his long nose and upturned mouth, makes for every child's fantasy friend. Full of warmth and humor, this story of bravery and kindness and the importance of dapper accessories has the feel of a classic.--Kelley, Ann Copyright 2010 Booklist

New York Review of Books Review

IT'S not always easy to follow your heart. It can mean challenging the status quo, defying others' expectations or, sometimes, discovering that those harboring strong preconceptions had you pegged correctly all along. And while children learn early on that a leopard can't change his spots, it's equally important to remember that each pattern is unique. Three new picture books explore the nuances of individuality through the exploits of feral creatures who aren't always what they appear to be - except, of course, when they are. In the opening pages of "Mr. Tiger Goes Wild," the author-illustrator Peter Brown depicts his hero as a bright pop of orange in a sepia-toned, quasi-Victorian city of bipedal deer and penny-farthing-riding squirrels clad in top hats, starched collars and overcoats. The stiffly anthropomorphized creatures maintain smug, sniffy expressions as they raise teacups, greet one another tepidly and admonish playful young rhinos, bears and pigs not to "act like wild animals." (Though his emerald-eyed, stoic expression never wavers, Mr. Tiger clearly gets the irony.) As Brown showed in 2009's "The Curious Garden," in which a small patch of urban green tended by a determined boy named Liam eventually transforms an entire city, a revolution can begin with a single, small act of defiance. One day, Mr. Tiger gets the "very wild idea" to adopt an all-fours stance, and things quickly progress: soon, he's scaling row houses and skinny-dipping in the public fountain. A two-page spread shows just how far he's come - wearing nothing but his stripes, he puffs out his chest and meets the reader's gaze with a slightly surprised and utterly joyful "Here I am!" expression. When his fed-up fellow citizens sternly suggest that if he must continue this behavior, he "kindly do so in the WILDERNESS!" the newly liberated cat complies with gusto. "What a magnificent idea!" he roars, gleefully escaping to a Rousseau-like tableau of dense ferns, soaring palms and cascading waterfalls. (Whether by coincidence or design, Henri Rousseau's 1891 painting "Tiger in a Tropical Storm [Surprised!]" marked the debut of the artist's famed jungle scenes, earning him the first serious review of his career.) Magnificent solitude has its price, however, and Mr. Tiger soon arrives at a second revelation: "He missed his friends. He missed the city. He missed his home." The return journey is a lesson in compromise, which isn't the same thing as defeat. Rather, Mr. Tiger chooses a middle path, and his neighbors meet him halfway. "how to hide a lion" finds another wild animal in an environment intolerant of his very nature. Originally published in Britain, the story begins innocently enough: "One hot day, a lion strolled into town to buy a hat." The noble beast has a curious, friendly look about the face, but one glance at the fearful townsfolk - this being a conventionally real-world burg inhabited by human beings - tells the reader that the excursion will not go as planned. As startled by the defensive villagers as they are terrified of him, the lion runs off, and lands in the backyard of a girl named Iris, who, as luck would have it, "wasn't scared of lions." Using a nostalgic style and subdued palette reminiscent of midcentury Little Golden Books masters like Richard Scarry - whose cover for 1956's "Winky Dink" also featured a honey-hued lion offset by a similar robin's-egg-blue background - the author-illustrator Helen Stephens shows how the pair's friendship develops just outside the myopic view of Iris's parents, even as the girl's mother lounges, barefoot in her armchair, reading a tabloid with the front-page headline "Lion on the Run." Despite the endless capacity for cluelessness among the adults in children's books, Iris and the lion are eventually found out, and the great cat flees. from here, the plot follows a reassuringly familiar path: the lion hides in plain sight downtown, between two Patience-and-Fortitude-like stone cousins, a vantage point that allows him to keep an eye on Iris and on the town hall. When two burglars break in and steal "every single one of the mayor's candlesticks," the lion pounces, nabbing the thieves and redeeming his reputation. Stephens wraps up her story neatly, with an affectionate callback to its very first page. Iris's gentle admonishment to her parents - "I told you he was a kind lion" - feels less a rebuke than a reminder to approach the unknown not with prejudgment, but with an open heart. As in Stephens's tale, the central characters of "Carnivores" suffer from a public relations problem - though in this case they've earned it. Fractured fairy tales and subverted expectations pervade children's literature, but as much as we may want to sympathize with Aaron Reynolds's beleaguered lion when "the wildebeests call him 'bad kitty,'" the fact remains: "He's eaten half the neighborhood." The great white shark is wounded by talk of "feeding frenzies"; after all, he claims (unconvincingly) "he's simply a fast eater." These two, along with the timber wolf who "almost never eats little girls," make a radical decision: "We'll go vegetarian!" Meeting in an A.A.-like setting, complete with desperately clutched coffee mugs and chalk-scrawled slogans like "29 Days Without Meat," the carnivore support group's efforts nonetheless fail. The wolf tries to survive on a diet of berries, but "every single berry bush seemed to have a bunny inside." The shark, determined to eat only seaweed, finds it leaves "a horrible kelpy aftertaste in his mouth." Despite the predators' ongoing efforts, their carnivorous tendencies assert themselves with renewed zeal. Dan Santat's animation background - he created the Disney television series "The Replacements" - manifests in his wild-eyed, mixed-media illustrations, which look as though they could bound right off the page and onto the screen. Reynolds, who pulled off a lighthearted "Who's the real monster?" twist at the end of 2012's "Creepy Carrots" (illustrated with Hitchcockian verve by Peter Brown), here takes a turn for the dark - and then goes darker still. A clue may be found in his author bio, which confesses six years of vegetarianism followed by the veritable zoo of animals he's consumed since. This is no sweet story of finding one's muse or looking beyond appearances; instead, "Carnivores" puts a somewhat macabre spin on the "follow your heart" theme, and it also imparts a corollary: "Listen to your stomach." CAROLYN JURIS is associate children's book editor at Publishers Weekly.