A lot goes into adopting a pet, and author Denise Brennan-Nelson emphasizes this in her newest picture book, called Leopold the Lion.
The book opens with siblings Ella and Jack finding a lion in their back yard. They fall in love with it instantly (of course!) and decide to take it home. They sneak it past their mother and their father, and although their grandfather sees and says, “Doesn’t look like an indoor cat to me,” they ignore him and settle it into their room.
They then proceed to spoil it rotten, giving it a bubble bath, feeding it potato chips, and allowing it to jump onto the furniture. Soon it is scrolling through a tablet and eating cookies; chowing down on all sorts of fatty snacks and laying around with mats in its once-beautiful mane.
It doesn’t take long for the children to notice that the lion is changing. It seems very bored and unhappy, so they decide to return it to the local circus that has recently put out flyers about a lost lion named Leopold. But when they arrive, no one in the circus even recognizes Leopold–not even the animals! It is obvious that he has had so much of a good thing that he is now fat, lazy and unrecognizable.
Leopold the Lion is a “Can-I-Have-a-Pet?” book with a definite twist. Instead of the typical story line where eager children bring home a pet and then don’t want to put the necessary work into its care, these siblings shower their pet with love and care but since he’s simply in the wrong environment, he isn’t able to thrive.
This is the perfect book to inspire discussions about why wildlife belongs in the wild. It can also be used to confirm commitments to an animal’s happiness and the responsibility of being a pet owner in the first place. Also great for young nature-lovers and those who love using their imagination.
Best wishes and happy lion-sitting,