DIM’S DICTIONARY OF DYNAMIC READS: Lions and Tigers and Bears, Oh My!

Although I’ve explored the northern most reaches of Africa, I’ve never trekked across its savannah or trudged through its verdant forests. Perhaps if I had (maybe one day), I would have encountered some of the magnificent creatures that inspired this week’s book list (except for the tigers of course; I’ll pop over to India for those).

Click on the title links to explore these books further and access ways to acquire them.

Bear Was There by Sally Anne Garland

Mouse is born and raised in a cosy embrace of love. His mother verses him in life and cautions him about its dangers, like Bear. But Mouse is young and carefree and explores his world with open abandon until one day; Mouse encounters a huge scary shadow – Bear! But as the seasons change and both Bear and Mouse mature, their relationship evolves until Mouse experiences an old familiar feeling … love. This gorgeously rendered tale of stranger-danger vs. trust, humility and acceptance is both charming to read aloud or savour quietly. Spectacular artwork marries a narrative that centres on change, emotions and the value of perceptions.

New Frontier Publishing, March 2020 9781925594935

Dumazi and the Big Yellow Lion by Valanga Khoza and Matt Ottley

Dumazi is a young savvy Zulu girl who encounters a yellow lion caught in a trap one day. Although compassionate, she instantly surmises the lion’s true nature and only after making a deal for her life, agrees to set him free. But can one really trust a hungry lion? And is Dumazi’s brazen bravery and quick thinking enough to save her life? This expansive tale is told with great humour and heart. Illustrator / composer Ottley’s adroit use of varying perspectives magnificently portrays the grand nature of Dumazi and the lion’s environment which pulses with wild movement, colour and palpable texture. If this is not enough to appreciate, there is also an orchestral CD by the creators to enjoy. Wonderful.

Scholastic Press, September 2019 971742994116

Ernest The Elephant by Anthony Browne

You may recall I wrote a story about a youngster yearning to break free from her family and explore the world on her own. Like Pippa, Ernest is part of a regimented family life which keeps him safe but is incredibly boring. Ernest wants more wonderful and, like our Pippa, sets off one day by himself to find it, which he does, in the jungle which is wonderfully exciting but just a little bit frightening. Who cares enough about a little errant elephant to help him find his mum again? Visually stunning and heartfelt, Ernest’s story encompasses curiosity, risk taking and compassion.

Walker Books, May 2021 9781406395099

Happy Hippo by Charles Santoso

Hippo’s glum expression and rotund appearance immediately endears however Hippo is less than enamoured by his ‘plainness’. He wishes for a little something extra. But we all know to be careful what we wish for, right? Well perhaps not Hippo. After a fantastical chance encounter, plenty of heedless wish making and a severe case of the-grass-is-always-greener-on-the-other-side-itis, Hippo finally gets what he always yearned for. With a laugh-out-loud twist ending and a gorgeous African hued palette, this is a great read aloud story celebrating self-acceptance.

Scholastic Press, September 2020 9781760273262

It’s Hard To Love A Tiger by Anna Pignataro

The title refrain lingers long after the last page is read in this adorable picture book by the remarkable, Anna Pignataro. Her sweet unassuming illustrations couple perfectly with cheeky rhyming verse about a little young lady, her tiger and his exasperating behaviours. Despite them all, she loves him absolutely. It’s a tale that ever-so-softly parallels living with a young irascible person.

Scholastic Press, June 2018 9781743817582

Theodore the Unsure by Pip Smith and Beau Wylie

I love this funny, eye-fetching, tale about young lion King Theodore, recently crowned Ruler of the Whole Animal Kingdom. Trouble is Theo is decision-making adverse which does not bode well for a King. As a fiercesome heatwave engulfs the grasslands, Theo yearns to cut off his exuberant mane but a worldwide vote precludes him from doing so. His solution is extreme yet wise, indicative of a great leader after all. Pure joy with a solid emphasis on problem-solving, decision-making and leadership.

Scholastic Press, August 2019 9781760661861






Norah Colvin said…
What a delightful collection, Dimity. I hope I find some of the titles in my local library.
DimbutNice said…
Thanks, Norah and yes! Look out for them; some old, some new. :-)
Anonymous said…
Hi am lucky enough to have sitting on my shelf Dumazi and the Big Yellow Lion and I absolutely love it! Thanks for the selection Dimity there's one or two others that I will be adding to my library.
Severgnini said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
DimbutNice said…
So glad to hear it! You're welcome. Yes, Dumazi was a big favourite here as was Theodore. Very funny, clever and relevant. :-) Thanks for visiting and sharing this book love.

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