A plucky young owlet decides to try and find his own dinner one day and so flies from the safety of his nest into the unknown world surrounding him. Little does he know that his nest is in a tree in the middle of a zoo – and he quickly finds himself face-to-face with a lion. Yet, instead of being eaten, the owlet and lion become friends.
The art in this book is stunning! I chose this book because of the lion on the cover and I fell in love with it because of the artwork (and the story, but mainly the art).
This fictionalisation is based on an actual event that happened in Paignton Zoo Environmental Park in 2010. While the actual incident was much briefer than those depicted in the book, it is still a wonderful story.
In Shirley’s version, a young owlet, impatient to see the world falls from his nest into the paws on a lion below. Instead of being in danger, the lion and the young owl start an unlikely friendship which is the basis of this story.
I loved the relationship between these two. I loved the owlet’s ambition to fly the world and his friendship to the lion that he would take him to Africa, back where he remembers growing up. The illustrations make this story to much more meaningful I think because you can see the beauty in the detail and it enhances the story.
I think if Shirley has chosen to do a more comical, or casual style illustration, then the sentiment and beauty of this story wouldn’t have the same impact that it does. It is a short story, but I’m so surprised at just how beautiful Shirley has managed to make it.
You can purchase The Gentle Lion via the following