'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 2 September 2020

Review: The Happy Lion

Originally published in 1954, The Happy Lion is a classic story of a cheerful, friendly Lion set in France.

In a zoo, in the middle of town lives the Happy Lion, unperplexed that he is surrounded by a moat and fence, the Lion is pleased to be greeted daily by townspeople going about their business. ‘Bonjour Happy Lion’ they would say across the water and he would cheerfully wave and smile in return. 

When the Lion’s keeper leaves his door open one day, the lion decides to visit the townspeople to return their kindness and say hello, but the response is not what the lion is used to; yelling and screaming prevail, as does confusion and a potentially dangerous situation for the Happy Lion. Luckily for the lion a familiar face calmly redirects and resolves the situation.

I love how The Happy Lion shows that context and surroundings can change people’s emotions and responses in different situations. I also loved the use of French language throughout the book as did my children who repeated ‘bonjour Happy Lion’ and ‘au revoir’ in their best French accents. 

The story is written wonderfully and illustrated with beautiful loose inked lines, textures and a muted colour palette. It certainly lives up as classic children’s literature. I felt a little uneasy about dated features including the premise of a lion alone in captivity and the mention of and presence of guns, overall though The Happy Lion left me with a fond feeling toward the lion’s character and the satisfaction of a classic tale.

Title: The Happy Lion
Author: Louise Fatio
Illustrator: Roger Duvoisin
Publisher: Scallywag Press, $16.99  
Publication Date: 1 August 2020
Format: Paperback
ISBN:  9781912650064
For ages: 3+
Type: Picture Book