Today we are looking at Shola and the Lions by Bernardo Atxaga, illustrated by Mikel Valverde (Pushkin Children’s). This book first appeared in Basque and was translated by the author into Spanish. Margaret Jull Costa then brought it to our eyes by translating it into English.
Synopsis today by Dominic:
A tiny white dog pretends to be a massive lion but she can’t be a lion because a lion is a type of cat and she is a dog. So she tries to scare people off but she can’t because she is just a dog and not a lion. She tries to hunt her own dinner but she couldn’t so she went home and had her own food that her owner gave her and she realised she wasn’t a lion at all.
Emma: Shola thought in the mirror that she was a lion. She isn’t really a lion.
This is a lovely book, bridging the gap between picture books and longer reads. The 48-page story is beautifully illustrated in colour and I love Shola’s many different expressions. The printing also has a great quality feel to it. The humour is great (Shola dying her fur in the bathroom surrounded by bottles) but the stand-out line for me in the book comes towards the end. Having been convinced she was indeed a lioness, she eventually admits “I made a mistake”. I think that’s quite an important thing for children to read; Shola made her mistake but Sr. Grogó accepts her back, admittedly with a bit of teasing, but nonetheless, the books leaves us safe in the knowledge that Shola is now safe back where she belongs. For anyone thinking this may be the book for them, there’s another three Shola stories to go at once you’ve finished this one!