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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!

A Hungry Lion or A Dwindling Assortment
A Hungry Lion or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals
 Lucy Ruth Cummins

It was the quirky illustrations in this book that made me first pick it up. Then I read it to my four-year-old and we both loved the twists (which I won’t spoil by letting you know!)!

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The Happy Lion
 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.

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How to Be a Lion
Ed Vere

This is a touching and warm story about friendship that I really enjoy as both an illustrator and a mum. Ed’s squiggly lines create oodles of character and the book is beautifully designed. It champions staying true to oneself and sticking to one's principles. This is an inspiring and adorable picture book about a pair of unlikely friends who face down a pack of bullies.

The Tiger Who Came to Tea
The Tiger Who Came to Tea
Judith Kerr

The classic picture book story of Sophie and her extraordinary teatime guest has been loved by millions of children since it was first published more than fifty years ago. I had to mention it here because it is such a special book. Loved by me as a child - and now my children. I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve bought a copy of this book as a gift. It’s a timeless classic.

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Arlo The Lion Who Couldn't Sleep
Catherine Rayner

Catherine's own new book, Arlo the Lion Who Couldn't Sleep,  is a beautifully illustrated story with a gentle mindfulness message – ideal for bedtime, and especially helpful for little ones who have trouble going to sleep. Find out more over on our blog.