What would it be like if one of the bronze lions in Trafalgar Square changed into a living lion and took you on an exhilarating tour of London? This picture book mingles fantasy with information most successfully: it provides children of about age four to seven years with a lively introduction to some of the main London sights within the context of an appealing story.
Children’s literature is full of strange and fantastic journeys on all manner of objects and creatures. Mayhew uses the device well here, pushing at the boundaries between the real world and the world of the imagination; the lion runs, jumps and sometimes flies over familiar London buildings with the children clinging to his back.
The text keeps up the pace of the story and includes a lot of convincing dialogue. Colourful and extremely detailed illustrations add greatly to the appeal of the book. They show a city full of life and movement – people and vehicles on the city streets, Tower Bridge swinging open for the river traffic and the London Eye turning as Katie, Jack and the lion rise high above London. Grandma is still on the bench, just waking up as the children return – another familiar story convention. Feelings are important too – young readers will like the touching ending when Katie and Jack hand over a woolly blanket, purchased at Harrods with the last of their pocket money, to keep the lion’s tummy warm.