From School Library Journal
Grade 5–8—The Girl Who Saw Lions
is an enticing narrative told in two parallel stories that converge in a satisfying ending. Abela, who lives in Tanzania, has become an orphan due to AIDS. After her parents die, her uncle schemes her away from her loving but poor grandmother, with the idea of selling her for adoption in England. Meanwhile, Rosa, who lives with her mother in England, has never quite fit in at school. When she learns that her mother is thinking about adopting a child from Tanzania, she is resistant because it might break up the special bond that they share. It is obvious just a few chapters into the book that there is a connection between Rosa and Abela—two very different girls who at first are separated both physically and metaphorically by a thousand miles. Doherty takes on multiple complex subjects including female circumcision, child trafficking, cross-culture adoption, and the death of relatives. At times, the number of issues threatens to overwhelm the story, but, ultimately, patient readers will be rewarded.—Ernie Bond, Salisbury University, MD
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In a village in Tanzania, Africa, nine-year-old AIDS orphan Abela is tricked by her uncle into leaving her beloved grandmother and traveling on a forged passport to England. Once there, she finds herself locked up alone and in danger until she’s finally able to run away. In Sheffield, England, Rosa, 13, is blissfully happy with her loving single-parent mom until Mom decides to adopt a child: Is Rosa no longer good enough? Of course, it’s clear that the girls will eventually get together, but tension builds in their alternating narratives, which include many truly surprising twists and turns along the way. Most powerful is the contrast between the protected daughter in a safe family and the unwanted orphan sustained by memories of the loving village community she has lost. The parallel stories of unbearable sorrow and hope dramatize what family means. Grades 6-12. --Hazel Rochman