UTAH LION by James Ralph Johnson
Kirkus Star


Email this review


James Johnson follows the trail of a Blue Tom lion from birth through hard-won maturity with a contagious tenacity and fascination. His low-keyed, succinct prose paradoxically heightens the reality and tension of a memorable trip through the wilds of the Southwest. Abruptly weaned from his mother by a bullet that kills her, Blue Tom is rescued by an old Paiute hermit and then put out on his own. He ventures forth quickly -- killing for hunger, avoiding unfriendly creatures like the bobcats, joining in the games of the dog foxes and always escaping the ferocious jaws of the hunting dogs -- fate which victimized so many of his friends. Blue Tom's scarred paw falsely leads the ranchers to associate him with a cattle killer. The pain of his capture and imprisonment in a cage outside a filling station is the basis for one of the most poignant scenes of innocent animal frustration. The scent of a female lion in the hills causes Blue Tom to experience a power he has never known. Painfully he breaks out of his cage, finds his mate and travels the trail with her and a new cub. But Blue Tom is not to escape the inevitable battle with his worst enemy, the hunting dogs. Savagely, they attack his mate and kill his cub. Now there must be revenge. From high in a tree, he swoops down on his enemy, matches their savagery and overpowers them. The battle, won, at a great price, he nudges his mate and the two wounded animals resume their trail. This is a compassionate, exciting portraysl of the king of the animal species -- who proves himself worthy of his title.

Pub Date: July 1st, 1962
Publisher: Follett