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Jim's Lion
     

Jim's Lion

by Russell Hoban, Ian Andrew (Illustrator)
 

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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

Overview

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.

Editorial Reviews

This moving story is about a young boy who is searching for the courage to survive an operation and serious illness. His nurse, a woman from Africa, tells him that each of us has a "finder" who looks out for us in times of need. She tells him to learn about his "finder" through his dreams. When Jim locates his "lion," he gains the courage he needs to fight for life. The illustrations in this book are stunning and evoke feelings of a dreamlike state. A beautiful book for children who need courage to face difficult times. 2001, Candlewick Press, $15.99. Ages 5 to 10. Reviewer: S. Latson SOURCE: Parent Council, September 2001 (Vol. 9, No. 1)
Children's Literature
Ian Andrew's sensitive illustrations, in pastel shades of blue and brown, complement the story of Jim, a seriously ill boy who finds comfort in his hospital nurse, Bami. Drawing on memories of her African childhood, Bami tells Jim how to let the thoughts and feelings in his head connect with a finder, a special animal that will protect him and bring him back "from wherever the doctors send you." Jim remembers an unusual rock, called the Lion's Head, in a beautiful place by the sea. The lion becomes his imaginary guardian, and, as the story ends, the reader knows that Jim is getting better. Jim's Lion is an earnest effort to add to the collection of picture books for children with special needs during extraordinary circumstances. Parents who face the trauma of comforting a child hospitalized with a potentially terminal illness may find it helpful in addressing the fears of a child in such a situation. 2001, Candlewick Press, $15.99. Ages 5 up. Reviewer: Anne Field
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3-Critically ill children, a population largely absent from the picture-book world, will now have a hero in Jim. There are no happily ever afters, but instead the realistic victory of courage in the face of surgery, and a Christmas morning spent at home rather than in the hospital. Jim faces an unnamed but clearly life-threatening illness with the help of Nurse Bami. Described as being from Africa and with "tribal scars on her cheeks," she shares with him the idea of a finder who will bring him back from the place he enters-induced sleep. The successful aftermath of the operation is not revealed through the expected hospital scene; the story takes a chronological leap from Jim's dream of his finder, the lion of the title, to his post-release holiday at home. Large, soft illustrations are worked around sizable blocks of text to show an expressive, tow-headed child; a magnificent lion; and loving adults. Movement is shown as a progression of figures, multiple Jims climbing to the top of a cliff, several lions as the animal comes nearer and nearer. Breathtaking pastels in understated blues, greens, and tans with subtle pencil cross-hatching perfectly match the quiet courage of the boy depicted in the gracefully simple text.-Faith Brautigam, Gail Borden Public Library, Elgin, IL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly
★ 10/06/2014
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.)
From the Publisher
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.
—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.
—Kirkus Reviews

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

Children's Literature - Sharon Salluzzo
Jim is in the hospital and is scared. He fears anesthesia and also that his condition may lead to his death. Wise and empathetic Nurse Bami, who is from Africa, counsels him to express his fears and then confront them. She tells him that there is an animal in his head “who can bring (him) back from wherever the doctors send (him).” That animal is his finder and only Jim can discover which animal it is. The combination of text and graphic art make this a powerful story. Deacon presents the dream sequences in panels. Color is used sparingly and heightens the emotional impact of the dreams. The Lion’s Head rock jutting from the sea is transformed into a regal lion in muted gold and brown earth tones. Later, the illustrator used red to create a sense of danger. All ends well, with Jim recuperating at home on Christmas. Hoban’s story was originally published as a picture book in 2001 with different illustrations. The combination of text and graphic novel in this edition widens the audience for this title. Without the guidance of a parent, primary grade children may find this confusing to help them through the dream sequences. This book will be helpful for children of all ages who have anxieties about illness and operations. It will help open dialogue between the child and parents, other caregivers, and those in the medical profession. Reviewer: Sharon Salluzzo; Ages 6 up.
Kirkus Reviews
2014-09-03
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)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780763611750
Publisher:
Candlewick Press
Publication date:
10/15/2001
Edition description:
1st U.S. Edition
Pages:
40
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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