An adventurous girl finds an escaped circus lion in 1925 Toronto.
Sadie Menken lives with her father, a pie maker, and their boarder, Miss Clemons, a savvy retired librarian and inveterate clipper of newspaper articles. Sadie loves nearby High Park, with its natural areas, but doesn’t get to play there often because she delivers her father’s pies after school. Her last daily stop is to a house inhabited by a wealthy family. Their young son, usually left at home while his parents travel, finally makes Sadie’s acquaintance. Not-so-courageous Theo Junior becomes Sadie’s confidant (and supplier of steaks) when she finds the lion in the park and begins to feed him late each night. Contemporary kids may wonder about Sadie’s and Theo Junior’s relative freedom, but the narrator explains: “Ninety years ago, when these events occurred, parents didn’t worry so much about children being outside on their own.” The accessible, humorous storytelling voice, its sketch of life in an earlier time, and the premise of a wild beast who calms down with good food and caring friends all combine to make this short chapter book an excellent read. The book assumes a white default.
Equally suitable as a read-aloud or as a choice for independent reading, this short chapter book will please animal enthusiasts and readers of tales about brave girls alike. (Historical fiction. 6-9)