Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Christian, the Hugging Lion

Christian, the Hugging Lion

Justin Richardson, Peter Parnell
Illustrator:  Amy June Bates 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 4 to 7
Simon and Schuster, 2010   ISBN: 978-1416986621

Harrods is a department store in London where you can buy just about anything. One day in 1969 two young men, Ace and John, went to Harrods to see what was for sale, and they saw a lion cub in a cage. They both felt that “A store is no place for a lion to live,” so that bought the cub and took him home to their apartment.

John and Ace named the cub Christian, and soon he was a much loved pet. Like most kittens, Christian liked to play with toys. What was unusual was that he also liked to hug Ace and John by putting his paws on their shoulders.

After a year or so John and Ace realized that it was one thing to share an apartment with a lion cub, and altogether another thing to share an apartment with a half grown teenage lion. Something had to be done. They did not want to take Christian to the zoo. Would it be possible for Christian to adjust to being a wild lion? Could they take him to Africa and let him run free in his ancestral habitat?

This is the true story of two men and the lion who was their friend. A few years ago a YouTube movie showing Christian and his human family went viral, and it has been viewed by millions of people since then. Christian is now a celebrity, and his story has touched the hearts of people all over the world

Beautifully retold by authors Justin Richardson and Peter Parnall, and illustrated Amy June Bates, this is a wonderful version of Christian’s story that is suitable for young children.