From School Library Journal
Grade 2-4–Markham included the story of her childhood encounter with a lion in her autobiographical West with the Night
(Farrar, 1982). Brown's adaptation of it begins with a tantalizing premise that doesn't actually get much play as later events move in a slow, dreamlike sequence. My father and I settled in East Africa in 1906….And it was where, as a small girl, I was eaten by a lion. The child and her father ride out to an estate where a tamed lion roams free, and she goes off exploring. Brown's sketchy, homely watercolor views include a few animals and trees against an otherwise barren landscape of earth melding into orange sky. Beryl soon encounters the resting lion, calmly stares him down, and goes on her way, unaware that he is now following her. Help miraculously arrives from a Sikh tending horses in the deserted terrain. Brown switches color tones for the anticlimactic attack, rescue, and loss of freedom for the animal. The enlarged face of the prone child, her eyes and mouth tight shut, painted in shades of purple, is the only close-up view of her–otherwise she appears as a small, crudely sketched figure. Markham goes quickly to the message of the tale, saying that this was a good lion, who did his best at being tame, and that perhaps he shouldn't be blamed for his one mistake and caged for the rest of his long days–a simplistic summation since the lion had gone on to kill a horse, a bull, and a cow the same evening.–Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
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K-Gr. 3. "As a small girl, I was eaten by a lion." The dramatic words will immediately grab listeners, especially because they refer to a true story. Excerpts from Markham's memoir West with the Night
(1943) fuel Brown's adaptation of an incident from Markam's childhood with her father in East Africa. One day they visit a farm family that keeps a tame lion, Paddy. The pencil-and-watercolor pictures show the small girl wandering alone in the bush, singing to herself as she sees Paddy coming close, then even closer. When she passes him, he comes after her with a huge roar and bites her leg. Even after what happened, Markham still felt compassion for the beast, who ended up caged forever in the zoo. The art and the text tell the story quietly, and Brown's endnote raises interesting questions about the meaning of good
and the value of being tamed. Hazel RochmanCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved