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Books About Lions and Tigers

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top five recommended children's books featuring lions and tigers.
Catherine Rayner – author of Arlo The Lion Who Couldn’t Sleep (available here) – has picked out her top five recommended children’s books featuring lions and tigers.

Catherine says:

The very first picture book I wrote and illustrated was about called Augustus and his Smile. Augustus is a tiger and  he holds a very special place in my heart. I’ve always wanted to make a book about a lion…but I felt I had to wait quite a few years before it was appropriate to do so (hence Arlo being released over a decade later!)! I love big cats, drawing them is pure pleasure to me. I also love to see how other illustrators create images of these beautiful creatures and it’s always a treat to find a brilliant book about a lion or a tiger, not only for me but also to share with my little ones.

It was tricky to whittle it down to five books here, but here’s a handful of lion and tiger books that I love and would highly recommend!

Louise Fatio
 & Roger Duvoisin

A classic and a favourite in our house – I loved it even before I had children. With a limited colour palette, Duviosin’s illustrations are stylish and expressive. This tale follows a Happy Lion in France who, after escaping the small zoo where he lives, is surprised that people, who loved visiting him there, are now scared of him.

Ed Vere

Leonard the lion, who is gentle and kind, is different to the other lions he meets. He likes to talk about poetry and philosophy with his like-minded friend Marianne the duck. When Leonard encounters a group of bullies in the park, they threaten to chomp Marianne before turning on Leonard for not being fierce enough. Leonard and Marianne work together to communicate to the bullies that there is more than one way to be a lion.

Judith Kerr

The classic picture book The Tiger Who Came to Tea has brought joy to children and adults for over 50 years.  Author Judith Kerr is said to have written the book based on a bedtime story that she made up for her young daughters.

Sophie is all set for a quiet afternoon with her Mummy. The doorbell rings, and to her surprise there at the door is a big, stripey, furry tiger. The loveable tiger is welcomed in and wreaks a small amount of chaos, eating the food and drinking everything in sight.

The sheer joy of the afternoon tea with the tiger makes for a delightful story and is a crowd-pleasing storytime favourite for preschoolers.

Catherine Rayner

Many of us can relate to the frustration of a sleepness night – especially after this past week of too hot, too stormy or too rainy bedtimes! Arlo the lion is no exception; he is struggling to sleep and feeling helpless at being all out of ideas for what to try next.

Arlo meets Owl, who offers a different perspective. He learns that Owl can sleep through the day – even through the sights and sounds of all the other animals being awake. Fortunately for Arlo, Owl has some sleep-inducing tricks of her own that might just help Arlo too. Owl teaches Arlo a bedtime song, which focuses on thoughts of happy places, a relaxation of the body, a slowing down of breathing patterns and meditation about sinking into the soft ground. The song works a treat, but in his excitement over his new found success, Arlo accidentally wakes other animals up! Happily though, they can use the song too to settle back to sleep.

Parents may like to encourage small children to give Owl’s song a try – or at least one or two elements of the toolbox of strategies it incorporates. The story meets young listeners in the frustrating experience of sleeplessness and moves them gently onwards by empowering little ones with mindfulness techniques tools to try for themselves.

This is a beautifully illustrated tale with a soft, dusk-like palette that blends Arlo’s gentle yellows and browns into the tranquil landscapes of wide, evening skies – almost as if the pictures themselves are willing Arlo to let go and settle into sleep. In fact, the whole story, with it’s gentle pacing and dreamy repetition, is a perfectly pitched winding-down story for busy children.

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