Monday, March 04, 2013
Isn't it funny how the best stories always seem to be the ones that didn't come from any book, the ones your dad told you when you were a kid, the ones his dad told him when he was a kid? It's like survival of the fittest: the best stories are the ones that have been passed down from father to son over generations, and the reason they survive is precisely because they're good stories. But at some point it's important to write them down, because memory can be fleeting and we don't want a good tale to disappear with the storyteller.
The Fox and the Angry Lion, has all the elements of a story that deserves to be told and passed down from generation to generation.
The Fox and the Angry Lion is a tale of how a lion terrorizes all the animals in the jungle, using force and fear to rule the land, how the other animals gradually realize something must be done, and how they team up with a wily fox and use their wits to come up with a plan to win back their freedom.
Here's what I liked about the book:
* The story is really captivating; our whole family enjoyed reading it! It's long enough for parents to read to their kids over the course of 2 or 3 nights, but not long enough for them to start getting bored.
* This book will appeal to kids over a wide range of ages; younger kids will enjoy the story, while older kids will find lots and lots of opportunities to have discussions with parents about oppression, the rich getting richer, and other problems in society. Kids will be able to understand the tension, but it's not too scary for them to handle, and they will love the clever way the bad guy gets his just punishment. My favorite part is when I realized that the lion wasn't expecting the animals to make him toast for dinner, he was actually going to eat one of them (duh!), and the orangutan came up with the idea of racing (the rat race!) so that the sickest and weakest ones would be sacrificed.
* The story includes a wide variety of animals, not just the tried-and-true favorites like elephants and zebras and lions, but also the less common ones like impalas, meerkats, hornbills, and hyenas. I can imagine families enjoying lots of fun "side trips" to other nature books to learn about these other animals! Of course, I doubt that bamboo thickets, jungles, foxes, lions and buffalo actually coexist in the same habitat, but hey, the story has talking animals so I assume realism is taking a back seat to setting an interesting and colorful story scene.
That being said, the self-published books I have reviewed all suffer from one big flaw -- insufficient editing -- and The Fox and the Angry Lion is no exception. There are a number of typos, grammatical errors and questionable diction. The Fox and the Angry Lion does have the look and feel of a self-published book -- but as far as kids are concerned, that may not be such a bad thing. After all, would you rather have factory-baked or home baked chocolate chip cookies? If you look at it that way, The Fox and the Angry Lion becomes a sweet morsel of a story to savor and enjoy with your kids.
Disclosure: I received a review copy of the book. The views and opinions expressed here are my own.