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Listening for Lions

3.99  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,309 Ratings  ·  376 Reviews
"If you are among evil people, you must be like the lion, gathering strength and awaiting your time."

Africa is the only home Rachel Sheridan has ever known. But when influenza strikes down her missionary parents, she is left vulnerable prey to her family's wicked neighbors. Surrounded by greed and lies, Rachel is entangled in a criminal scheme and sent to England, where sh
Paperback, 208 pages
Published October 10th 2006 by HarperCollins (first published July 26th 2005)
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Listening for Lions by Gloria WhelanHattie Big Sky by Kirby LarsonLike the Willow Tree by Lois LowryVoyage on the Great Titanic by Ellen Emerson WhiteBread and Roses, Too by Katherine Paterson
Middle Grade set in the 1910s
1st out of 116 books — 12 voters
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. RowlingEragon by Christopher PaoliniLife As We Knew It by Susan Beth PfefferThe Hunger Games by Suzanne CollinsUglies by Scott Westerfeld
Favorite Beehive Award Nominees
25th out of 54 books — 55 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Jubilation Lee
I knew that I’d read Listening for Lions at some point, but I kept mixing the plot up with The Secret Garden, which I sort of think isn’t my fault since they both involve girls and plagues and foreign countries and going to live in large English manors.

So I figured it was time for a re-read.

Now I remember why I thought this was such a phenomenal book, although I can see why this might not be super popular with the young ‘uns, because it’s not as… adventurey… as the jacket blurb would lead you t
Jul 23, 2008 Dawn rated it liked it
I absolutely loved the first two thirds of this book. It received the National Book Award, and I can see why. I kept thinking "this is a book I wish I could write!" Whelan's prose is lovely and her imagery is precise and perfect. I love the way she uses imagery to tie landscape and characters together--wonderful. The book is taut with suspense, the heroine engaging and morally sensitive, and her dilemma is real for a child. She tries so hard to do what is right! I also agree with a comment by my ...more
Mar 17, 2016 Abi rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: People who like good books.
Shelves: favorites
This has to be one of the best books I've ever read! It is filled with adventure, excitement, suspense, and surprises. I can't recommended this book enough! Just... go read it. Now. ;)
Feb 16, 2012 Cindy rated it really liked it
4.5 stars. I randomly came across this a few weeks ago while at the library. If Frances Hodgson Burnett, Isak Dinesen, and Charles Dickens all got together and wrote a book, this would be the result. I was quickly drawn in to Rachel's story and stayed captivated all the way through. It's not a perfect book - my biggest complaint is that a lot of things were skimmed over, especially in the second half; I think it would have made a terrific thick life-story novel if it had been divided into sectio ...more
Brandi Rae
Aug 27, 2008 Brandi Rae rated it liked it
Rachel loves her life in Africa, where her father runs a missionary hospital and her mother runs a local school. Unlike other British citizens in East Africa, particularly Mr. and Mrs. Pritchard and their daughter Valerie, her family lives simply with the Kikuyu and the Masai tribes, respecting their traditions, holding church services and training them to work in the hospital.

Her peaceful life is shattered when both her parents, as well as Valerie Pritchard, die from an outbreak of influenza,
Mar 18, 2008 Kristine rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone
Shelves: young-adult
I picked this up at the library - it's a nominee for the national book award. I loved the setting and the stories of Africa -- I loved how the author showed women can be strong, even at a young age. Really it was about loss and tragedy. It has really good lessons about service and greed, but I don't think it was preachy about them. I like all the references to Dickens -- because it was kind of Dickens in its own way.
Nov 13, 2008 Wendy rated it liked it
Recommended to Wendy by: Dawn
Appealing heroine, marvelous evocation of place, interesting plot--until the end. The final chapters are so rushed that the story feels disappointingly truncated, as if the author ran out of time or had some artificial length limitation (it's already a rather thin book!).
Nov 28, 2014 Sydney rated it really liked it
Probably more like 4.5 stars. This book was actually really, really good. I loved it. (I stayed up extremely late just so I could finish it)

Definitely a good book to add to your to-read list
Aug 31, 2012 Jean rated it liked it
I came across this book while shelving yesterday and remembered having read it a while back. But once again I was attracted to the picture on the cover. So I spent some enjoyable time rereading the story that is really a 3+. What I admire most about this book is the author's knowledge on many subjects and her intertextual references to many works of literature including Dickens and Jane Eyre. It's not hard to guess where Whelan got the idea for her tale of orphans whose plight is aided and hinde ...more
Apr 05, 2009 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I really enjoyed this book, even though it has a few weaknesses. It is very similar to other stories that take place in England in the early 1900s, like The Secret Garden, A Little I enjoyed that aspect. The first two parts were great, the third part really needed more space to expand and tell the story and develop characters. I was interested in Rachel's journey through medical school and coming home to build the hospital. I felt that the book needed to be twice as long to provide ...more
Mikki Elodie
Dec 12, 2015 Mikki Elodie rated it it was amazing
This book has always inspired me, and when I first discovered it, I think I read it four times in a row. The protagonist Rachel was and still is my hero. She went through the death of her parents only to be left in the hands of manipulative people. Through several series of events, she eventually went to medical school to become a doctor with all the odds against her because she was a woman. Still she became doctor and did what she believed was right.
Gina (Weena)
May 29, 2015 Gina (Weena) rated it really liked it
This book reminded me a little of a Shirley Temple movie. Young girl loses parents, has to go live with mean people who want to use her to get their father's money, lives with a kindly old man who becomes enamored with her, and so on. It's a pleasant story, though, and I would recommend it to anyone who just needs a quick read to past the time.”
Apr 13, 2015 Mochatribe rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite books. We picked it up I tape st the library to listen to while traveling. Them we bought the book. My daughters love it too. This is one you will read many times.
Martha Valasek
Jun 25, 2014 Martha Valasek rated it it was amazing
I was so intrigued with this story set right after WWI. Charming contrast between Kenya and England. I liked also because the main character was a missionary kid like me.
Kaylin Hoover
Feb 13, 2015 Kaylin Hoover rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Autumn Bloss
I thought this novel was very descriptive and detailed. It was about a girl named Rachael who lost her mother and father at the age of 10. She had to live with 2 people she hated because she did not want to go to an orphanage since her parents both were in an orphanage when they were little. So she lived with the people she disliked. The daughter of the people she disliked and her parents all died from influenza. I think the main character of the story is Rachael because she is the one telling u ...more
Sep 03, 2015 Emma rated it it was amazing
I was a fifth grader when I read this. Let's just say, wow. The jacket cover may be a bit exaggerated in it's thrill count, but in fifth grade, I was still an avid bookaholic and loved, was obsessed with fantasy! And so, when I read this, I was just... inspired by Rachel. I've always wished for life to get more exciting, dangerous or perhaps risky, like aliens jumping down to earth and changing our world, our getting recruited to some fighter academy, or being told there were monsters in this wo ...more
Jacque C
Gloria Whelan tells the story about an orphan girl named Rachel in her novel Listening for the Lions. Rachel is passing through a lot of pain, her parents dying, and her having to move in with her parents enemies, the Pritchards. The Pritchards are wealthy planters that think they're better than everybody else. Rachel thinks that they're taking care of her out of kindness but what she doesn't know is that they're using her to impersonate their daughter, Valerie, who died of Influenza. She is for ...more
Nov 11, 2008 Jenny rated it really liked it
I have gotten into Youth Fiction lately and my friend Kim who is a children's librarian recommended this one to me. Becuase of the age level it is a quick read.

I really loved this book. It is inspiring and makes you feel good to see this young girl struggling on her own but making good choices becuase she has been taught by good parents. Ive never been to Africa but have a couple of friends that have lived there so I can understand a little of the passion and love she feels for Africa.
Mar 21, 2014 Ashley rated it really liked it
by: Gloria Whelan
The book "LISTENING FOR LIONS" is about a girl named Rachel Sheridan who was born and raised in British East Africa, the daughter of British missionary parents who ran a hospital there. Africa is the only home Rachel has ever known, and she loves it. But everything changed in 1919, a disease called influenza epidemic arrives and kills her parents. Since Rachel's parents were orphans, Rachel has no family to turn to, and is caught up in plans of their wealthy n
Becky Keir Grace
Rachel has lived her whole life in Africa with her missionary parents. Influenza takes its toll on the area, leaving Rachel an orphan. Another couple, the Pritchards, lose their daughter Valerie as well. The Pritchards have ill intentions when the take Rachel in for their own needs. Forcing Rachel to pose as their deceased daughter, Rachel finds herself on her way to England for the first time to stay with Valerie's grandfather. The Pritchards hope to use Rachel to get in good with the grandfath ...more
Linda Lipko
Oct 19, 2012 Linda Lipko rated it it was ok
Shelves: young-adult
This is a delightful tale of Rachel whose parents are missionaries in East Africa. When at outbreak of influenza occurs, both parents did, leaving Rachel an orphan. Shipped to England, she longs for the return to Africa.

Rachel is spirited and spunky. While there is nothing in depth about this tale, I enjoyed the simplicity and story line.
Apr 13, 2010 Shannon rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Listening for Lions was a sweet, simple story. Rachel is a compelling character, and her story reminded me a bit of Heidi and Little Princess. The book is partly set in Africa. I learned that Africa is a place of color, not the bleak landscape I always pictured it.
I don't want to say more, and ruin your discovery of this story.
May 15, 2013 Nora rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this YA book about missionaries' daughter 1919 in Africa. Her parents run a small hospital in Tumaini (Swahili for hope). Influenza took its toll in Africa, too, and eventually killed the ministering doctor/wife. The story starts after their funeral.
I loved this book and will read others by the same author.
Jul 25, 2015 Celia rated it really liked it
I love this book. I love the main character, Rachel, and her bravery and strength. The story begins at the end of WWI, when influenza has killed half a million people in the US, and even travels to East Africa, where Rachel lives with her parents who run a hospital in a remote area far from Nairobi. The influenza kills her mom, and then her father who was the only doctor in the little hospital. Rachel's life changes drastically when another English family, who have evil intentions, convince her ...more
Pat (Get Kids to Read) Tierney
Nov 09, 2014 Pat (Get Kids to Read) Tierney rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2014, middle-grade
Listening for Lions
by Gloria Whelan
Harper Trophy
Middle Grade, Historical Fiction

Listening for Lions by Gloria Whelan is a great book for fans of historical fictiono. Rachel lives with her parents at a missionary hospital in Africa in the early 1900's. After both her parents die of influenza Rachel is kidnapped by a rich couple determined to reclaim their inheritence. She is sent to live with the Grandfather of a girl who died of influenzna. Given instructions to impersonate the late girl so
LCL Children'S
Fans of Burnett's 'The Secret Garden' and Montgomery's 'Anne of Green Gables' will enjoy this sweet book by Gloria Whelan. Rachel Sheridan's parents are missionaries are in Africa when the post-World War I influenza epidemic sweeps through their village of Tumaini in Kenya. Soon after its outbreak, Rachel is sent to England as a pawn in a greedy couple's scheme for money. There she endears herself to an old man who becomes her benefactor. During her time in England, she never loses the hope of r ...more
Feb 07, 2012 Lana rated it really liked it
I LOVED this book. It is a quick read and I actually read it in one day. Should I admit that? A feel good book that reminded me of The Secret Garden, another one of my favorites.
Jun 11, 2015 ValiantPevensie4 rated it really liked it
"Thirteen-year-old Rachel Sheridan is left an orphan after influenza takes the lives of her missionary parents in British East Africa in 1919. When cruel neighbors take her in, Rachel suspects their intentions may not be honest. Soon, Rachel becomes entangled in a shocking and nefarious plot that takes her away from her beloved east Africa on a lonely and treacherous journey across the ocean. Surrounded by greed and lies, Rachel must rely on her irrepressible spirit and extraordinary wit to weat ...more
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Gloria Whelan is the best-selling author of many novels for young readers, including Homeless Bird, winner of the National Book Award; Friutlands: Louisa May Alcott Made Perfect; Angel on the Square and its companion, The Impossible Journey; Once on this Island, winner of the Great Lakes Book Award; Farewell to the Island; and Return to the Island. She lives with her husband, Joseph, in the woods ...more
More about Gloria Whelan...

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“They were all brilliant. They wrote books and painted pictures, and if they ever stopped talking, which I was sure they would never do, they planned to change the world.” 966 likes
“I looked forward to making friends at school, but I had come late and friendships had already been formed. I couldn’t find my way into their world. They seemed to have a secret code I couldn’t decipher.” 9 likes
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