My father and I settled in Africa in 1906. . . . And it was there, as a small girl, I was eaten by a lion.
So begins a true story from aviatrix Beryl Markham’s autobiography. Here young Beryl and a “tame” lion called Paddy come together in an encounter that challenges our notions of wild and docile, trust and duplicity, punishment and forgiveness. Coupled with Don Brown’s expressive watercolors, The Good Lion is a powerful story that will leave readers wondering about the true natures of man and beast.
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Don Brown is the award-winning author and illustrator of many picture book biographies. He has been widely praised for his resonant storytelling and his delicate watercolor paintings that evoke the excitement, humor, pain, and joy of lives lived with passion. School Library Journal has called him “a current pacesetter who has put the finishing touches on the standards for storyographies.” He lives in New York with his family.From School Library Journal:
Grade 2-4–Markham included the story of her childhood encounter with a lion in her autobiographical West with the Night (Farrar, 1982). Brown's adaptation of it begins with a tantalizing premise that doesn't actually get much play as later events move in a slow, dreamlike sequence. My father and I settled in East Africa in 1906....And it was where, as a small girl, I was eaten by a lion. The child and her father ride out to an estate where a tamed lion roams free, and she goes off exploring. Brown's sketchy, homely watercolor views include a few animals and trees against an otherwise barren landscape of earth melding into orange sky. Beryl soon encounters the resting lion, calmly stares him down, and goes on her way, unaware that he is now following her. Help miraculously arrives from a Sikh tending horses in the deserted terrain. Brown switches color tones for the anticlimactic attack, rescue, and loss of freedom for the animal. The enlarged face of the prone child, her eyes and mouth tight shut, painted in shades of purple, is the only close-up view of her–otherwise she appears as a small, crudely sketched figure. Markham goes quickly to the message of the tale, saying that this was a good lion, who did his best at being tame, and that perhaps he shouldn't be blamed for his one mistake and caged for the rest of his long days–a simplistic summation since the lion had gone on to kill a horse, a bull, and a cow the same evening.–Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
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