Friday, June 3, 2011

The TTLG 2011 Picture Book Celebration: Book one hundred and fifty-four

A few years ago a YouTube video about a lion called Christian went viral on the Internet. I was one of the millions of people who watched as a full grown lion hugged the two humans who had raised him, and whom he hadn't seen in a year. Now you can watch a five part documentary about Christian and his human family on YouTube, and it is a fascinating and very moving story. Today I have a picture book that tells Christian's story so that young children can find out how love truly can overcome the most astonishing obstacles.

Christian, the Hugging LionChristian, the Hugging Lion
Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Illustrated by Amy June Bates
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 4 to 7
Simon and Schuster, 2010, 978-1-4169-8662-1
   Harrods is a department store in London where you can buy just about anything. One day in 1969 two young men, Ace and John, went to Harrods to see what was for sale, and they saw a lion cub in a cage. They both felt that “A store is no place for a lion to live,” so that bought the cub and took him home to their apartment.
   John and Ace named the cub Christian, and soon he was a much loved pet. Like most kittens, Christian liked to play with toys. What was unusual was that he also liked to hug Ace and John by putting his paws on their shoulders.
   After a year or so John and Ace realized that it was one thing to share an apartment with a lion cub, and altogether another thing to share an apartment with a half grown teenage lion. Something had to be done. They did not want to take Christian to the zoo. Would it be possible for Christian to adjust to being a wild lion? Could they take him to Africa and let him run free in his ancestral habitat?
   This is the true story of two men and the lion who was their friend. A few years ago a YouTube movie showing Christian and his human family went viral, and it has been viewed by millions of people since then. Christian is now a celebrity, and his story has touched the hearts of people all over the world
   Beautifully retold by authors Justin Richardson and Peter Parnall, and illustrated Amy June Bates, this is a wonderful version of Christian’s story that is suitable for young children.

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