Thursday, July 22, 2010

Lafcadio, The Lion Who Shot Back

Lafcadio, The Lion Who Shot Back
Shel Silverstein ~ Harper & Row, 1963

One of his longer picture books, it (along with The Missing Piece and The Giving Tree) was one of the three Shel books I owned as a child. I read it to my son for the first time a few days ago, and he sat mesmerized. It's filled with all the things little boys love: guns, death, animals and marshmallows. (Not expressly in that order.) This is the story of a lion in the wilds of someplace that isn't afraid of hunters like the others in his feline family. When he procures a gun from one such edible annoyance, he becomes a master shot... and eventually receives an offer from a circus man..."But you can make lots of money and you can be the greatest shooter in the world and you can be famous and eat wonderful foods and wear silk shirts and yellow shoes and smoke fifty-cent cigars and go to wonderful parties and have everyone pat you on your back or scratch you behind the ears or whatever people do to lions; I don't know."

"Ears, shears, a glass of bears," said the young lion. "What do I want with all that stuff?"

"Everyone wants that stuff," said the circus man. "Come with me and be rich and famous and happy and be the greatest lion in the world."

"Well," said the young lion, "If you do come, will I get a marshmallow?"

And boy, does he get a marshmallow. He also gets rich and famous and becomes so much NOT a lion that he is hardly recognizable. One day he finds himself in the jungle, almost a man, hunting the lions he once hung with. A wonderful open-ended Shel finale leads to a great lesson on understanding that often when we seek the material, we lose ourselves.Also by:
A Giraffe and a Half
Uncle Shelby's ABZ Book


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