Red Light, Green Lion by Candace Ryan is a charming children’s book that teaches more than the colors red and green; it gives a lesson in making the best of the happy and sad surprises that show up in our day.
Ryan prefaces this book with a short quote by the priest and author Henri Nouwen (1932-1996), and she includes a line of dedication which reads, “For Henri Nouwen, who taught me how to look for the hidden gifts in rainy-day red lights.”
With the clear and uncomplicated crayon-like line drawings of illustrator Jennifer Yerkes, Ryan tells the story of a lion waiting at a traffic light. The word “light” is hyphenated to the flip-page where we see “li-“ isn’t light at all, but “lion”. This pattern of page-turning surprises repeats throughout the book, as well as the “li-“ sound to form new words.
Our friendly green lion experiences lightning and a flood of rain with all manner of fanciful things floating past. The expressions on the faces of the animal characters are readable and captivating. I would read this to children from birth up through 12-years old, and I’m sure I’d get requests for repeated readings from the same audience (of those able to communicate). I expect Red Light, Green Lion to find a treasured place in many a child’s home, and heart as well.