Would Your Child Like to Raise a Lion Cub?

Here's a beautiful and highly readable children's book that highlights African culture, wildlife conservation, and virtues of courage and tenderness.

Alexander McCall Smith is best known as the author of The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency, but he does children’s books as well.

Akimbo is a boy who has access to all the coolest animals in Africa. His dad is one of the rangers in charge of a wild game reserve, which means that from one book to the next Akimbo is having adventures with snakes and baboons and elephants and crocodiles. Oh my!

In Akimbo and the Lions, he accompanies his father to trap a lion harassing a small village. But things don’t go as planned.  Instead they trap a cub and scare the mama away. That means someone needs to take care of this wee little lion, and Akimbo convinces his dad that he is just the boy for the job!

McCall does a wonderful job of balancing the tension in the book. There were moments where my 5 and 7-year-olds were covering their mouths (and sometimes their eyes) but these moments didn’t last too long.

This is just a good old-fashioned adventure, perfect for their age group. It is short — a book that can be read in two or three sessions — exciting, sometimes sweet, with gentle humor along the way too. We look forward to tackling others in this series.

Jon Dykstra blogs on books at ReallyGoodReads.com. This column originally appeared at Mercatornet.com, and is reprinted by permission.

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