Friday, October 30, 2009

Christian the Lion by Anthony (Ace) Bourke and John Rendall

Christian the Lion by Anthony (Ace) Bourke and John Rendall
Copyright 2009
Henry Holt and Company - Children's (I'd say this one's good for a broad range - maybe 4-12)
32 pages

It's Children's Day at Bookfoolery!!

In tiny print on the cover of Christian the Lion, you may be able to see the words "Based on the best-selling true story!" I'm guessing that simply means the story has been boiled down to children's size (as opposed to, "We fictionalized this sucker") because it is known to be the true story of two men who bought a lion cub at Harrod's in London, raised it in their home and then released Christian in Africa. The video of the two men reuniting with Christian went viral on YouTube, not that long ago.

Christian the Lion is a lovely, lovely book and a tender, poignant true story. The layout looks like a scrapbook, with numerous black and white photographs that show the story of Christian from the time of his adoption to the final photos as Christian broke into a run and then "hugged" one of the men. Text and backgrounds are creatively and neatly placed, clearly written and simple enough to read to a fairly young child but not so babyish that an older child who loves animals should feel put off.

The slipcover is gorgeous, shiny, and textured. I absolutely love this book!

A commenter at Amazon has mentioned that there is an error in the book and Africa is referred to as a "country" rather than a "continent". I looked for this error and found it; elsewhere, Africa is simply referred to in general terms. England, London and Kenya are pointed out on very basic world maps. Hopefully, the error will be fixed in future editions. I've actually blacked out and corrected errors in children's books if I consider them serious, but I probably wouldn't have bought them in the first place if I'd known. This one doesn't bother me. Africa is a continent. One line, one word. I'll fix my copy and keep it.

5/5 - Perfect for the animal-loving, cat-crazy kid or adult in any family; a lovely story of affection between humans and pet.

Further information on the lion and how two Australians managed to raise a lion in an urban environment -- the very hip Chelsea in London, 1969 -- can be found at Today's website. Because the story was written for children, it obviously doesn't go into painful detail and the website answers additional questions. For my part, I plan to look for the complete memoir, as well.

Christian the Lion is Book #1 for Children's Day. More coming, soon!


  1. One word wouldn't bother me either - all books have a typo somewhere!
    And I have been hooked on lions and stories like this ever since Born Free...

  2. It looks lovely. Do you know what the title is of the full-length, adult version (I'm assuming there's one)?

  3. Diane,

    My sentiments exactly. It's easy enough to scratch out a single word if you're worried about a child learning wrong. My thought was that you can always replace the word aloud if the children are at read-to-me stage. Older ones will probably come running to someone to tell them the book got it wrong.

    I loved Born Free!


    The adult version is called A Lion Called Christian (same authors - Bourke and Rendall) and it was originally published in 1971. I saw a copy at our bookstore, just two days ago, so it's either back in print because of that video or still in print.

  4. Liked this bog so much I put a link to it on the vicksburgnews Facebook page. (Hoping it will help you). There are 374 people following that Facebook page.

    You are certainly welcome to make posts and add things there. I try to put things relevant interesting to our community at large for all ages and everyone.

  5. Thanks, Charles. I didn't realize you had a Facebook group. I've just joined. Maybe that will help me keep up with local happenings. I'm kind of "off the grapevine," if you know what I mean. :)

  6. The book sounds good to me - I probably wouldn't have noticed the error until someone pointed it out.

  7. Kathy,

    I didn't notice it. I went to Amazon to look up the page count because the pages aren't numbered and was surprised that the book only had three stars. It was because the person who remarked upon that error gave it only 1 star. The other person gave it a 5. I think it's a 5-star book, myself. I love it.

  8. Great review. I found it ironical (yep, made that one up) that you posted this one today as I just received a copy in the mail yesterday! Twilight Zone coincidence or what (probably not but hey, it's Halloween time and it seems that way to me)! Thanks for the insight! Now to see if I see the mistake along the way...

  9. GMR,

    I just got mine a couple of days ago and I loved it so much that I thought, "This is the time for a Children's Day". I really had to look for that error. It's not a big deal, in my humble opinion, but someone who posted at Amazon sure didn't like it. They gave it 1 star. The other reviewer gave the book 5 stars (like me!).

  10. Awe - I remember seeing this video a while ago and just crying. It was so sweet. (Yeah I am a sucker like that.. but I was pregnant.. geesh) :)

    I would want to read this..even with the error!

  11. Allison,

    I wasn't pregnant but I sobbed, too. The video was incredibly touching.

    Apparently, I need to go write a review at Amazon to help offset that bad rating by the picky person. I'm in total agreement. One error is no big deal.

  12. Wonderful review! I have the adult version on my TBR.

  13. Teddy Rose,

    Thank you! I'm not surprised you have the memoir. I *am* surprised I didn't find it, sooner. :)


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