click image for
Leopold the Lion
When Jack and Ella come across a friendly–and talented! –lion in their backyard they are thrilled to take him in as their pet. And they’re positive they know just how to care for their new pet, ignoring Grandpa’s cheeky asides. But soon Leopold the Lion grows despondent. Even the circus who lost him won’t take him back! Do Jack and Ella know what to do to get Leopold healthy again? A sweet story with a subtle commentary on making healthy choices.
“Keeping a lion as a pet is never easy. Jack and Ella find a lion in their backyard, a lion that can perform backflips and somersaults on the trampoline! They, of course, want to keep him. Sneaking him by their parents is simple (they are busy, and the role reversal portrayed in their jobs is refreshing) . . . The lesson is obvious, but it’s delivered with a light touch. Details such as the children’s pictorial list of “good pets to get” and a packet of freeze-dried wildebeest (“made with pride”) keep the illustrations lively. Jack, Ella, and their family are portrayed with dark skin and hair, with no obvious ethnic markers, allowing for a wide range of identification. An essential look at the importance of an active lifestyle sneakily disguised as a fanciful feline tale.” – Kirkus Review
“ . . . Barshaw’s ink and watercolor cartoon illustrations drive home the message by showing the former king of the jungle lolling supine on the floor surrounded by empty snack wrappers and pop bottles. When reunited with his circus family, Leopold is unable to do his trademark tricks and is unceremoniously ousted. Jack and Ella bring him back home and, this time, provide a nutritious regime of “freeze-dried wildebeest” and plenty of rigorous exercise. VERDICT: A whimsical story that could spark healthy living discussions.” – School Library Journal