This young reader's adaptation of Bourke and Rendall's A Lion Called Christian(Doubleday, 1971) concisely relays the story of an unorthodox pet: a lion cub the authors find in a cramped cage in a London store. As the friendly lion grows, his owners reluctantly acknowledge that Christian belongs in his natural habitat, and they arrange to have him released into the Kenya wilderness, thanks to several remarkable coincidences. Some readers will be familiar with the story's affecting conclusion-Christian joyfully greets his former owners when they visit Kenya a year after his release-since it is depicted in a popular YouTube video. Ably and excitedly streamlined for the audience ("Christian pulled on his lead like an excited puppy.... he wanted to get outside!"), the narrative includes numerous light, endearing anecdotes about Christian's accomplishments and missteps, both as a pet and while adapting to his new life in Africa. Enhancing the volume's kid appeal are a 16-page color photo insert of the lion and the authors, plus facts about African lions and other species. Ages 8-10. (Mar.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Children's Literature - Sarah Maury Swan
Based on a true story which was widely reported by YOUTUBE�, the book shows us new born cubs playing around their mother in her Devon, England, zoo home. Then we see two friends, Ace and John, Christmas shopping in Harrodsa huge department store in Londonwhere they find two of the cubs crammed into a small cage and surrounded by crowds of people. The female cub has already been sold, so Ace and John buy the male cub and name him Christian in honor of the season. He lives in the basement of their furniture store and gets his exercise in the neighboring church garden. The two friends are very fond of Christian, and he of them, but, being a lion, he continues to grow. Soon John and Ace realize they will have to find somewhere else to keep him. Fate intervenes and eventually Christian is introduced to his ancestral continentAfrica. He is acclimated to living free and wild in Kenya by George Adamson, who was well known for sending lions back to the wild. He and his wife, Joy were the subjects of a movieBorn Freeabout reintroducing a lioness to the wild. Christian ends up thriving in his new home but never forgets his human friends. Although the writing tends to be patronizing, it is an interesting story and the photographs are great. There is additional information about lions and other African creatures at the back of the book. Reviewer: Sarah Maury Swan
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6–Christian the lion lived in London with two antique dealers until they decided he needed to be trained to survive in the wild and live out a happier life in Africa. Bourke and Rendall tell this strange tale of buying the lion cub in a department store, giving him the run of their home and store, and introducing him to their life in the thick of the city. They describe where he liked to sit, what he liked to do, and how he reacted to new situations. All of the circumstances pile up on one another, making for a slow-paced narrative. The story is based on the authors’ experiences, but, according to the CIP, “the names of people, places, dates, the sequences and details of events, and the actions and conversations of real-life figures have been changed.” So it is difficult to know what is true and what is not other than their love for this gentle lion and their understandable unhappiness about their preparations for his eventual departure. Some of the photos seen on YouTube are grouped with other black-and-white and color shots in the center of the book. Back matter contains tidbits about Christian, lions in general, and various famous animals. This is not an essential purchase.–Nancy Call, Santa Cruz Public Libraries, Aptos, CA