Jim's Lionby Russell Hoban, Ian Andrew (Illustrator)
Asleep in his hospital bed, Jim dreams of a great lion with white teeth and amber eyes. This lion is Jim’s finder. According to Nurse Bami, everyone has a finder, a creature who comes looking for/b>
Russell Hoban’s moving, unflinching tale of a boy who finds bravery during illness is reimagined in graphic-novel format with new art by Alexis Deacon.
Asleep in his hospital bed, Jim dreams of a great lion with white teeth and amber eyes. This lion is Jim’s finder. According to Nurse Bami, everyone has a finder, a creature who comes looking for us when we are lost. But when the time comes for Jim’s operation, will his lion be able to find him and bring him safely home? Dramatically reimagined as a graphic novel by award-winning illustrator Alexis Deacon, with the inclusion of powerful dream sequences, Russell Hoban’s tale of a boy’s search for strength and courage will resonate with any child dealing with adversity.
The late Hoban’s story about a boy battling a mortal illness was first published in 2001. Turning it into a graphic novel is a tricky prospect, but Deacon (who illustrated Hoban’s Soonchild) is fully up to the task. Jim lies in a hospital bed, gravely ill. He knows he may die. The ward nurse, Nurse Bami, an African woman “with tribal scars on her cheeks,” tells Jim that he must search for his finder, the animal in his head “who can bring you back from wherever the doctors send you.” Jim’s finder, it emerges, is a lion, and, in watercolors simultaneously delicate and taut with emotion, Deacon imagines Jim and his lion fighting his sickness. Small panels capture with marvelous powers of invention the hallucinatory nature of sickness. Dreamlike worlds of death threaten to engulf Jim, are beaten back, then gather strength and attack again. Deacon’s images enhance but do not overwhelm Hoban’s story, which holds its own potent magic. Nurse Bami tells Jim how he’ll know he’s found his finder: “The real thing is always more than you’re ready for,” she says. This is the real thing. Ages 6–9. (Nov.)
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
Dramatic... Wordless dream (or more accurately, nightmare) sequences presented in panels make up more than half the pages, expanding the vision and intensifying the impact of Hoban's words. ... The spare, low-key telling heightens the paintings' emotional heft. ... This ... inventive work is most likely to be appreciated for its artistic vision.
This is a spare allegory, and Deacon’s illustrations complement and extend the brief text. ... The art highlights the feverish terror of Jim’s dreams... Sophisticated art... The unique story and remarkable art warrant this a place in library collections.
—School Library Journal
The intensity of the imagery calls to mind the respect afforded to children’s emotional capacities found in Shaun Tan’s "The Red Tree." ... Just what the doctor ordered for children with vivid imaginations facing their own traumatic ordeals.
—Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
Compelling and disquieting, Deacon’s artwork, a dazzling emotional tour de force, takes this old story to exciting new levels.
—Jules Danielson, Kirkus Reviews
Breathtaking... The book is a lovely blurring of what is dream, what is reality, as Jim finds courage to free himself from his fears. ... Inspiring.
—The Buffalo News
Illustrator Deacon offers a dramatic, disturbing interpretation of an already-unsettling story of childhood illness. The story remains the same as in the earlier version, a picture book with soft pencil-and-pastel illustrations by Ian Andrew (2001), the text both allusive and elusive. However, the presentations and quite likely the audiences vary considerably. Young Jim suffers from an unspecified condition that requires some sort of surgery to cure. Nurse Bami (from "Africa," a vague description that risks allegations of cultural insensitivity) suggests imaginative and spiritual ways to find the strength to cope with his fear and anxiety. Wordless dream (or more accurately, nightmare) sequences presented in panels make up more than half the pages, expanding the vision and intensifying the impact of Hoban's words. Occasional touches of humor appear, as when a series of animals auditions for the role of Jim's animal "finder," but more often, the watercolor pictures portray a surreal world, with a menacing rabbit magician or the eponymous lion displaying his fierce fangs. A muted and limited color palette causes splashes of blood red to stand out startlingly just as the spare, low-key telling heightens the paintings' emotional heft. Of possible interest to caregivers seeking books with bibliotherapeutic potential, this difficult and inventive work is most likely to be appreciated for its artistic vision. (Graphic/fiction hybrid. 7-10)
- Candlewick Press
- Publication date:
- Edition description:
- 1st U.S. Edition
- Product dimensions:
- 10.12(w) x 11.60(h) x 0.37(d)
- Age Range:
- 6 - 9 Years
Meet the Author
Russell Hoban (1925–2011) once described himself as "an addict to writing" and wrote more than fifty books for children, including such classics as Bedtime for Frances and How Tom Beat Captain Najork and His Hired Sportsmen. With Candlewick, he was the author of The Sea-Thing Child, illustrated by Patrick Benson, Soonchild, also illustrated by Alexis Deacon, and Rosie’s Magic Horse, illustrated by Quentin Blake.
Alexis Deacon created the acclaimed picture books Slow Loris, While You Were Sleeping, and Beegu, a New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Children’s Book of the Year. He is also the illustrator of Russell Hoban’s Soonchild. Alexis Deacon lives in London.
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