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Call Me Lion

Book Synopsis

Ten-year-old Leo dreams of performing in the West End. His love of dancing is getting him through the Luton heatwave, but his selective mutism is putting his spot in the end-of-summer dance show on the line. When chatty Richa moves in next door, Leo finds it easy to bond with her. She talks enough for the both of them … at least to begin with. But when he learns her secret it’s clear that Richa needs Leo’s support as much as he needs hers. With Richa’s help, will Leo be able to follow his dreams? Or will Leo’s inability to talk cost him their friendship? A heart-warming story of courage and determination in the face of adversity, perfect for fans of Jacqueline Wilson, Lisa Thompson, Stewart Foster and Elle McNicoll.

Our Review Panel says...

Leo wants to talk but he can’t. He has all the words but fear means they won’t come out. When Risha moves in next door, he’s worried that when his new friend finds out his secret he’ll be left alone again. But when he learns her secret, he hopes to help her and make her a permanent friend,

This book sensitively explains selective mutism for young (and older) readers. Told beautifully over a hot summer, we are let into the world of a young KS2 boy who is often treated as though he’s not there. He really wants to participate in school activities and make friends, but anxiety stops him. As the story progresses, we’re taken on a journey as Leo takes steps to achieve his future dream of dancing in The Lion King. However, if his selective mutism stops him from dancing in the summer dance show how can he ever dance on the West End Stage?

As readers, children can develop empathy for others who may find it difficult to speak in front of them, and the end of the book gives tips to support classmates. The story explains some of the frustrations that classmates of those with selective mutism might feel, and how to be supportive. It also gives a voice to those who might feel that, particularly in the classroom, they have none.

As a teacher this was an excellent read, giving an insight into how pupils with selective mutism might navigate the world around them and giving tips on how you might support a child in your class to give them the same opportunities as others. It would be great for use in PSHE lessons exploring empathy.

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Call Me Lion

call me lion

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Does the book contain anything that teachers would wish to know about before recommending in class (strong language, sensitive topics etc.)?

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