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A PBS Storytime selection

ABA/CBC Best Book


From Elisa:
Art and music are universal languages, languages without words, that all people share.  In THE LION AND THE LITTLE RED BIRD the sight of the Lion’s colorful tail and cave paintings make the bird happy. The sound of the bird’s music makes the lion happy. What sights make you happy -- or sad? What sounds? 


The pictures in this story were made with a variety of materials. I painted the lion with golden-brown watercolor, and glued down bits of fuzzy yarn to make his mane. I painted the bird’s body red, and created her feathers by cutting out pieces of of marbelized paper. ( The patterns on marbelized paper remind me of birds’ wings.) As you probably know, pictures made from different materials reassembled to form something new are called collages. Try making your own collages. Collect materials which appeal to you: feathers, beads, bits of cloth, pages torn from magazines or catalogs, old holiday cards, etc. Combine them to form your own collage picture. Have fun: there are no rules in collage!

A lovely lion doll sits with other friends from my books. He is handmade  by soft sculptor and artist Kate Barsotti.

Two artists' quilts based on LION AND LITTLE RED BIRD. Halli Kenoyer and Kathie Johnston crafted these pieces.


 Dutton Children's Books, 1991

From an author whose work is said to “burgeon with joy,” here is a gentle mystery about a silent, gallant lion and a sweetly cheerful bird—two friends who are attracted to each other through the universal language of art. Elisa uses watercolor, gouache, ink, colored pencils, pastels, markers, and crayons to collage this charming and colorful tale.

"A sweet and captivating book with gorgeous illustrations. Its story line and artwork both have unusual and unexpected qualities that work together to generate a magical, light mood...A unique and worthwhile contribution to any collection."

-- starred, School Library Journal


“This joyous tale about the wordless discoveries of friendship is illustrated with mixed-media collages so richly colored and textured that readers will want to feel the pages...Enchanting.”
-- starred, Kirkus.

“Every day the lion’s tail changes color, and the little red bird determines to find out why. This is a celebration of friendship and creativity cloaked in a simple mystery. Collage paintings explode with color, texture and detail”
-- Sesame Street Magazine

THE LION AND THE LITTLE RED BIRD premiered as a ballet with the Charleston Dance Institute in 2017.  Under the direction of Jodie Davis Caplea and Jonathan Tabbert, my story took graceful flight! To view and hear segments of the performance, please click here and here

It was a delight and an honor to see THE LION AND THE LITTLE RED BIRD adapted for the stage by playwright Nicole Blaire Adkins, directed by Mark Sutton, and performed by the Children's Theatre of Charlotte in October, 2014. Tim Parati painted the scenery, translating Sandra Gray's beautiful scenic designs onto the stage, and artist Peter Smeal created the props.   Enjoy this album of images from the show.  Photos by Donna Bise and Meredith Barringer Sutton 

LION in Korean and Chinese

And here is an Indian version of the lion and the bird.

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