Jim’s Lion by Russell Hoban, illustrated by Alexis Deacon

My new favourite book.

I have been using it for the last 2 weeks during guided reading at school. The kids love it. The mix of pages with type, double page spread illustrations and dream sequence comic book illustrations make this book particularly special.

The book is about Jim, a young boy with a life threatening illness. Jim needs surgery. He is terrified. His dreams take him to some dark, frightening places. The magicians and child entertainers from the hospital become rabbits operating on him with giant saws and boxes. The surgery lights above the operating table morph into mechanical spiders. He becomes lost in vast labyrinths.

Fortunately for Jim, help arrives in the form a kind nurse from Africa called Bami. She tells him to search for his finder animal in his good place. The next night Jim is confronted with a lion. At first Jim feels threatened by the majestic animal, but Bami reassures him and offers him her ‘don’t run stone’. This becomes very useful to Jim. The lion, his finder, helps save Jim from his terrifying dreams.

The book has been masterfully adapted and re-imagined by Alexis Deacon, whose skill as a storyteller and as an illustrator, make this already beautiful story something to be truly treasured.

I have already bought 3 more copies in hardback, one for myself and 2 for gifts.

Also, there are some lovely hidden gems for the avid reader to find.

I would like to thank Mathew Tobin for recommending the book and to Walker Books for sending me a review copy.