Children's Chapter Book + Talking Lion/Animals + magic tree/house
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I think there was a magical tree or tree house involved.
When I try googling this, I find the Mary Pope Osborne series, which is not what I'm looking for.
Does this ring any bells?
The Magic Tree and the Flyaway Birds
The magic tree and the curious badger
The Magic Tree and the Missing Acorn
Tales of the Magic Tree
To clarify a little more, this was more disney-esque. I'm pretty sure the animals were doing human-like things. For some reason, I picture the lion eating a peppermint or other sticky candy, though I think it might just be something about the artwork I can't forget.
There was a journey element to it, and the artwork was extremely colorful. I want to say water colors, but it was much more detailed than most watercolor illustrations I've seen...
Also, I don't remember humans in the book. If they were there, I think they were minor characters.
Thank you for all of the suggestions!
Augusta & Trab by Christopher De Vinck
Four Winds Press, 1993 - 129 pages
A year after her mother's death, ten-year-old Augusta and her cat, Trab, set out on a fanciful journey that helps Augusta come to terms with her loss.
There's a lion, mention of peppermint, the lion appears to talk...
Amazon link with cover.
From Publishers Weekly
The author's first book for children chronicles the whimsical adventures of Augusta and her talking cat, Trab. When Augusta uses the unusual key she has found to unlock a narrow door set into a peach tree, she and her trusty feline companion enter a magical land. After a series of mildly surreal mishaps, Augusta meets Hildamore, an extraordinary, powerful woman who rules a kingdom of animals. Fantasy intersects with the real world when Augusta's encounter with wise Hildamore allows her to come to terms with her mother's recent death.
From School Library Journal
Grade 4-6-Meeting characters similar to those found in Alice in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, and Dr. Dolittle, a girl and her cat go on a wild trip filled with adventure. Since her mother's death last year, 10-year-old Augusta has felt an emptiness inside her. Her busy father doesn't have enough time for her, so a stray cat she adopted has become her constant companion. He can talk, and is very wise. Both girl and cat have strong wishes-hers is to receive a commission in the Queen's Royal Navy and see the world; his is to live in a jungle and give advice to the animals. When Augusta finds a key that fits a door in a magic peach tree, they enter a realm where their dreams are fulfilled. Augusta learns much about herself, but she still misses her mother. Then, an amazing woman shows her how the pain of loss can be muted by recalling favorite memories. Finally, the girl is ready to go home to her father.
The artwork looks like watercolours, but not as detailed as you had me thinking (I've seen books with pretty detailed watercolour paintings!) This book sounds promising. I hope it is the one!
Thanks for the suggestions, Bookel & Juniormiss!