Kathryn's Reviews > Christian the Lion

Christian the Lion by Anthony Bourke
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's review
Jul 13, 2010

really liked it
bookshelves: childrens-picture-books, nature-animals
Read in July, 2010

This is a picture book version of the "Christian the Lion" story that most people are probably familiar with thanks to the famous YouTube video that sent Kleenex sales skyrocketing.

I think the book succeeds at what it does. It presents a very abbreviated version of Christian's story, from his early days at the zoo to his time spent in a cage at Harrods (oh, for shame, Harrods! And here I had always thought of you rather fondly) to being "adopted" by Ace and John and going to live with them and then finally to being released in the wild in Kenya. The story is told mostly through annotated photographs with Christian in the first person (um, lion) and a "note" from Ace and John in the beginning and end. And, let me tell you, there are some WAY cute photographs here!

I think this is a nice version of the story to share with children. Everything is presented in a very positive way, with Christian liking his home with Ace and John, then liking Africa even more. There's no dwelling on suffering in the cage at Harrods and no hint that he wasn't happy being a domesticated lion. (I haven't read the full story so, who knows, maybe he did love it.) It's obviously clear, though, that lions are meant to be in the wild and that is what Ace and John wanted for Christian all along. There are several areas where I found myself wanting to know more but this covers the major "plot points" of the story.

I got through this without a single Kleenex, so perhaps it's not as powerfully told as it could be. But, I still really enjoyed it and think it's a great introduction to the story for children--or adults who want more than the YouTube video but don't have time for the complete book.

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Comments (showing 1-3 of 3) (3 new)

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message 1: by Kathryn (last edited Jul 17, 2010 11:22AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Kathryn Oh, "Domesticated" is my term, not theirs. I was trying to imply the type of expectations placed upon Christian living in an apartment not to suggest that he was ever anything but a wild lion at heart. Sorry for any confusion.

Kathryn I think this was back in the 70s, which, of course, they should have known better back then, too--but at least it's not something recent! I don't think it would be allowed anymore, thank goodness!

Kathryn Maybe the story of Christian even prompted some of their current high standards in terms of animal welfare. I am really glad Christian got such a happy ending :-)

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