The story is not quite along the same formula as the previous editions (bugs have a rave up, birds get jealous, have their own rave up) though I won’t split hairs. This time we have a grumpy lion but one who won’t lower himself to imitate such riff raff.
Leonis, King of the Jungle, was feeling low and jaded.
All the radiant colours of his inner rainbow faded.
Instead he decrees there shall be a Cavalcade. I’m not sure why that’s different. But it makes pretty pictures.
The Lion’s Cavalcade was of course illustrated by Alan Aldridge, in collaboration with Harry Willock alongside verses by Ted Walker. First published in 1980, it is based on the 1808 poem The Lion’s Masquerade and Elephant’s Champêtre credited to ‘A Lady’. How charming.
I’m almost tempted to say the detail and humour in these illustrations surpass the two prequels.
Still a lovely combination of light and shade, there are not only beasts but also little demons and gargoyles in many plates. When the Cavalcade finally begins:
All huge events of HISTORY
Went past, as though they’d never cease:
Creation’s every mystery
Of Love and Beauty, Harmony, Peace –
Till Demons of Black Havoc and Satan’s Law
Dragged Rhino in as Mars, the God of WAR.
Transmogrified, the Tiger Lily prowls
Through thickets where the watchful Dog Rose growls
At Puss Moth poised to spring on dainty paws
From ripe Crab Apples armed with pincering claws
Finally, after the sour faced Lion remains unimpressed, it is piggy who saves the day. Dressed up as a porcine King of the Fairies from A Midsummer Night’s Dream, no less.