Keeping a lion as a pet is never easy.
Jack and Ella find a lion in their backyard, a lion that can perform backflips and somersaults on the trampoline! They, of course, want to keep him. Sneaking him by their parents is simple (they are busy, and the role reversal portrayed in their jobs is refreshing). And although Grandpa seems to sense something is up, he lets them be. Jack and Ella feed the lion a steady diet of chips and snacks. When they go to school, they make sure he is occupied with plenty of electronic games. Unsurprisingly, the once-boisterous lion turns listless and lethargic. Barshaw shows him tragically slumped on the floor, barely able to lift one claw to place on the touch-screen of his device. He has no desire to go outside and play. Even when his circus past is discovered, Leopold does not want to perform anymore. Luckily, Jack and Ella (with some help from Grandpa) realize how wrong they were. Lions (and children, by extension) need a healthy diet and exercise. The lesson is obvious, but it’s delivered with a light touch. Details such as the children’s pictorial list of “good pets to get” and a packet of freeze-dried wildebeest (“made with pride”) keep the illustrations lively. Jack, Ella, and their family are portrayed with dark skin and hair, with no obvious ethnic markers, allowing for a wide range of identification.
An essential look at the importance of an active lifestyle sneakily disguised as a fanciful feline tale. (Picture book. 4-7)