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The Lion Who Stole My Arm (Heroes of the Wild) Hardcover – February 25, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 2–4—A hungry lion attacks young Pedru, leaving him with just a stump for an arm. In his village, lions are a threat in several ways, but, luckily, he survives, angry and wanting revenge on the lion. Life is drastically changed for him, but he learns to manage by giving up soccer and practicing drawing and using his spear. Despite the author's intent of creating a story to help readers understand the plight of lions in Eastern and Southern Africa, the execution is somewhat inept. There's a lack of clarity as to where the story takes place (clues lead to Mozambique as most likely), what tribal people are being depicted, and when the story takes place. Apparently, the village has rarely been visited by a car, though they know of Land Rovers. In the epilogue, readers learn what has happened to Pedru as an adult and the changes to the village as a result of learning to coexist with lions, implying that most of the book took place during an earlier time period. Much of the factual matter in the back refers to Kenya, and often the author talks in generalities about Africa rather than a specific country. Various animals, birds, and trees are mentioned with footnote descriptions, but when Pedru climbs a tree, there is no mention of what species it is. For a more grounded story at this level, try Alexander McCall Smith's Akimbo and the Lions (Bloomsbury, 2005). On the plus side, this is a short chapter book with black-and-white illustrations and plenty of action that will appeal to unfussy readers who are being introduced to longer fiction.—Carol A. Edwards, Denver Public Library, CO
Lions are a dangerous threat to the people of Pedru’s village. Coming home from a fishing trip, Pedru is attacked by a lion, and he loses an arm. As he gains strength in his subordinate hand, Pedru’s desire for revenge becomes stronger. Then when a villager is killed by a lion, Pedru accompanies his father to hunt him down. They mistakenly kill a lion wearing a collar, which leads Pedru to the local conservation research unit, where he finds himself at a crossroads he never imagined. Written in plain, simple language, zoologist Davies’ slim book carefully teaches without preaching, as Pedru learns to look at lions in a different way and to contemplate peaceful, workable solutions to perilous problems. It also conveys the message that strength comes from within. Wright’s black-and-white illustrations evocatively convey Pedru’s story. A brief discussion titled “Living with Lions” follows the story, highlighting the challenges of everyday life, conservation methods to combat extinction, and the Niassa Carnivore Project of Mozambique. Grades 3-5. --Jeanne Fredriksen
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I'd hand this to a savvy 2nd grade reader and a striving 5th grade reader even. I'd read aloud the first chapter which ends with Pedru realizing he'd lost his arm, leave the students hanging and put this book in the classroom library. I'd read this aloud as part of a conservation unit. There's a great author's note at the end about how conservation groups are working to educate east Africans about lions, build fences, walk at night with flashlights, and so forth in an effort to save people and lions. I'd read this aloud and then ask the students if they want to do more research and raise funds for donating. The author's note at the end could be a mentor text for research and informational/persuasive writing.
Honestly, I just enjoyed reading this book and LEARNING.