Book Review of Hope
The Children’s Book Review
Written and Illustrated by Matthew Cordell
Ages 3-5 | 36 Pages
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion | ISBN: 9781484773413
What to expect: Heart-warming, Poetic, Family, Animals
Hope is a subtle book that tackles big themes. The two main characters, grand-lions, address the text to their grand-child, a cub lion, and offer the reader a lovely meditation on generational love.
With pastel illustrations and an elegant text, writer/illustrator Matthew Cordell (a Caldecott medalist) tells the tale of life’s passage through the aging lions passing on their love to a young lion. “Dearest Grandchild, / You will drink from/ the same streams / that we drank from, / and those before us,” the aging lions say, “You will walk along/ the same paths / that we walked on, / and those before us.” As the tale proceeds, the older lions’ spirits remain, and the reader bears witness to the young lion becoming a parent, too, continuing the very circle his grandparents had outlined.
Cordell’s approach to this heady subject matter remains remarkably sensitive throughout while managing not to become cloying or overly sentimental. There is enough that is said directly and enough that is left implied for both child and adult to be engaged and moved, and the book will likely spark conversations afterward. The illustrations offer an excellent complement to the text, as they maintain a dreamy quality that has a brightness that lifts up the subject matter.
By placing the ideas of love continuing along through the generations within this landscape of animals, the book animates a subject that children—and parents—perhaps lack of words for yet have the desire to express. To Cordell’s great credit, this book’s meeting of words and images conveys the subject very well, staying true to its central theme of hope and continuity.
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About the Author
Matthew Cordell is the author and illustrator of many celebrated picture books, including Hello, Neighbor!: The Kind and Caring World of Mister Rogers and Wolf in the Snow, recipient of the 2018 Caldecott Medal. As an illustrator, he has collaborated with many more authors, including Gail Carson Levine, Philip C. Stead, and Rebecca Kai Dotlich. Matthew lives with his wife, author Julie Halpern, and their two children in suburban Chicago.