JIM’S LION by Russell Hoban


by & illustrated by
Age Range: 6 - 10
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Jim is in the hospital, seriously ill and facing surgery; he knows he might die. He’s too frail for surgery and he’s afraid. Nurse Bami is “from Africa; she had tribal scars on her cheeks. She had seen lions, elephants, crocodiles.” And she is able to facilitate Jim’s ability to find the strength to fight for his life. She tells him to go to a good place in his mind where his “finder” can come to him and bring him back. In a series of dreams, Jim visits a lonely place by the sea and discovers that his finder is a lion. Ultimately, his lion is the source of the strength and courage he needs to be able to recover sufficiently to come home for Christmas. Jim’s story is beautifully told in a measured progression of conversations between Nurse Bami and Jim and a series of Jim’s dreams. Though the text is lengthy and the subject matter serious and complex, the pencil-and-pastel illustrations perfectly match the gentle, soft tone and enhance the dreamlike qualities. The muted quality of the light, the translucence of the lion, and the slightly out-of-focus figures are all a perfect match for the ethereal tone of the narrative. The oversized trim and borderless double spreads beckon the reader into the good place where the finders can come for them too. Hoban has taken a difficult subject and created an artful story, avoiding both preachiness and sappiness. The ending offers great hope but no miraculous cures. Effective for one-on-one reading with a child who’s facing any type of difficulty for which inner strength is needed. Beautiful and comforting. (Picture book. 6-10)

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 2001
ISBN: 0-7636-1175-1
Page count: 40pp
Publisher: Candlewick
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 15th, 2001


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