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The Time of the Lion

Published by Beyond Words
Distributed by Simon & Schuster

A magical tale of the special bond between father and son recounts how young Joseph, living in the African Savannah, comes to love a lion living nearby and how he learns to both love and trust his father.

At night while his village sleeps, young Joseph hears a lion's roar thunderclap across the wide East African Savannah. Joseph's father tells him that it is not the right time to go and meet the lion, but when Joseph sees the lion racing towards him, his great head streaming with gold and his paws as big as drums, a special friendship begins. Every noontime Joseph visits the lion's den. He sleeps beside the lion, meets the lioness, and plays with the young cubs. Then one day, traders come looking for lion cubs and an anxious fear awakens in Joseph: he suspects that his father has betrayed the lions.

This beautiful father/son tale explores an unusual friendship and a child's rite of passage. The Time of the Lion creates a metaphor for the magic of childhood, a time when fantasy is reality, and lions are our friends. The beautiful artwork is the perfect compliment to this tale, capturing the power and mystery of the African Savannah.

Photograph courtesy of author

Jackie Morris is an author, illustrator and artist. She lives and works in a small cottage by the sea in Wales, UK. She loves colour, cats, birds and flight, walking, reading, magic and dragons, kites, dandelion clocks, dogs and horses (especially the black and white heavy footed kind with great liquid eyes) and many other things.

Above the house where she lives is a rare thing, a dark sky where stars are clear and visible, and every night she walks, watching the moon wax and wain and the stars turn across the ocean of air.

If she could have one special thing it would be a time machine so that the days could be longer. She has written and illustrated a few books.

Photograph courtesy of author

Caroline Pitcher just loves writing! She is full of ideas for picture books. Her constant inspiration is the natural world, especially Greece and beautiful Derbyshire. She writes stories to read aloud, comic books and novels for children and young adults. Sometimes she visits schools and festivals, and leads workshops. At any time Caroline is writing two or three different books.

Caroline's books have won the Kathleen Fidler Award, chosen as the Independent Story of the Year, and they have been given Writers' Awards by the Arts Council and East Midlands Arts. Her books have been shortlisted for the Stockton and Portsmouth Awards, chosen as book of the month by Ottakars (remember them?), nominated for the Carnegie Medal, the Greenaway Award, the English Association 4-11 Award, and the Children's Book Award.

"Kindergarten-Grade 3-Joseph, a young boy who lives in the African Savannah, hears a lion roar and decides that it's time for him to meet it, despite his father's belief that he is too young. As he spends time with the Lion, who is able to talk, the boy relishes the animal's company and watches his young cubs play. When traders come to the village, Joseph fears for the cubs' safety and suspects his father of betraying them. However, his father, too, once played with and learned from the lions and he hides the cubs in earthen pots. The father and son are happily reconciled, while the Lion looks on. The idea of a boy and an animal becoming friends has merit, and yet readers' ability to accept the friendship is undermined by the Lion's excessively metaphorical presentation. Also, the illustrations sometimes show the animal as part of the land itself, the two flowing together in natural harmony. Combine all of this with the practical improbability of hiding lion cubs in pottery and the result is a book with disparate desires: to make the lion both concrete and symbolic. Still, this ambitious text coupled with smooth, sand-washed watercolors will move readers with its raw emotion."

– Martha Topol, Traverse Area District Library, Traverse City, MI, School Library Journal

"Ages 4^-8. With stunning watercolor paintings of the east African savanna, this picture book tells an elemental story of a boy and his father and their connection with the wild. It begins with excitement: while the village sleeps, Joseph hears the ROAR of the lion like a thunderclap in the night. Joseph wants to meet the lion, but his father says it isn't time yet. The next day, Joseph sees the lion racing toward him like a glittering sun, and he and the powerful animal make friends. They rest together every noon, and the lion keeps Joseph safe. Then the traders come, and Joseph is scared that his father has betrayed the lion and sold the lion cubs; instead, Joseph discovers that his father has hidden the cubs to save them, just as the lion kept Joseph safe. What's more, his father admits that he was wrong: it is time for Joseph to meet the lion. The final scene is a stirring climax: a close-up embrace of the father and son, with the great lion a part of their love, against the dark sky and the rolling hills. With none of the stiffness of folk art, these pictures have a sense of contemporary village life rooted in the natural world."

– Hazel Rachman, Booklist