By Julie Colombet
Published on: March 1, 2020
Such a cute book about fitting in, friendships, and accepting others for who they are. Plus you can never have enough books on lemmings.
This quirky, humorous picture book from French illustrator Julie Colombet is jam-packed with lemmings and sure to raise a laugh. When the lemmings encounter a bear, they are determined to help him be more ‘distinguished’ – just like they are. But little do they realise this bear could be exactly what they need to save them from themselves…
With Julie Colombet’s distinctive voice and beautiful illustrations, each spread is packed with detail to pore over. Think ‘My Fair Lady’ meets ‘The Lemmings’.
Lemmings are very distinguished individuals. They have lots of special talents, such as in music, drama, and art, and they love to show them off. They also have a lot of rules too. Rules like always acting in a distinguished manner.
One day Bertie (a distinguished lemming who is a bit tired of all the noise), decides to get some fresh air above ground where he meets a bear. The bear soon makes it clear that he’d like to try and be friends with Bertie. Bertie shows the bear all the special activities they do in the Society, but it becomes clear to Bertie that the bear isn’t enjoying these activities. Then bear shows Bertie what he enjoys doing, like climbing trees, and soon Bertie finds that he enjoys them too and decides that it is nice to have friends who have different interests. Soon the rest of the lemming society learns about bear and decides to teach the bear how to be distinguished too, but it doesn’t work out exactly like anyone planned.
This was a cute little book to read. The pictures include all sorts of lemming conversations the society members have with each other adding a lot of context to the story as well as extra interest that is fun to read, look at, and act out, such as “Panic!!” and “No roaring, please.” After all, they are part of a society and society members like to talk and chit caht.
Important themes such as acceptance, friendship, and inclusion continually play throughout the book, teaching children valuable lessons they can take with them as they grow into adults. From a story perspective, I really appreciated how bear valued his friendship with Bertie and the lengths he went for his new friend. But on the flip side, I really like the subtle message it sends to even adults about making someone feel included when you are in a group, such as talking about what interests they have and not just what is part of your world.
Overall, I found The Society of Distinguished Lemmings a delightful book that you will want to read over and over again
Rating: 5 stars
Thanks to Edelweiss and Peachtree Publishing Company for the advanced reader copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.