Title: The Lion Who Stole My Arm
Author: Nicola Davies
Publisher: Walker Books
Publication Date: March 2013
Nicola Davies is a zoologist as well as an author and programme maker and her admiration for all creatures great and small infuses her writing. The Lion Who Stole My Arm teems with exotic wildlife, not just the cats of the title but with all sorts of birds and mammals that inhabit the African landscape.
This is the story of Pedru, a young boy who is set upon by a hungry lion on his way home from a fishing trip with his friends. The lion bites off his arm and Pedru swears revenge. When another victim in the village is mauled to death, Pedru's father is chosen to track down and kill the predator. Pedru accompanies him but the hunt does not go according to plan. Instead it brings the young hunter in contact with conservationists who look at lions from a different perspective. The result is a collaboration between the villagers and the conservationists that leads to major benefits for all, including the lion who stole Pedru's arm.
Davies' adventure is short and moves at a cracking pace, making it a perfect read for reluctant and fluent readers alike. The language is simple without sounding like it's been edited for the less able reader. Pedru is a character many children can identify with and his inner journey as he struggles to come to terms with his new disability rings true. An end note about lions and the concern about their impending extinction adds another layer of meaning to to the book. When I finished the story, I found myself googling all the animals mentioned and reading up on them. A winner all round! Can't wait to read the other three titles in the series, all featuring different animals under threat of extinction.
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