Andy and the Lion

andylion1Daugherty, James. Andy and the Lion. New York: Puffin Books, 1989 (1938).

Last weekend as I was straightening up, I came across this small figurine on the bookshelf over my desk.  It is titled “Il Fedele”.  It means “boy with a thorn” or “the faithful boy”.  According to my reading this faithful shepherd boy was given an important message to deliver to the Roman Senate.  He ran and ran to deliver it as quickly as possible.  Only after the message was delivered did he stop and remove the thorn from his foot. I hope his faithfulness was rewarded.

il_fedele2My Mom bought this small item when we lived in Greece a long, long time ago.  I wish she was still here so I could ask her why she bought it.  I think she liked the boy’s face. Looking at this figurine made me remember my Mom, our time living in Greece, and more to the point, another story about a boy and a thorn, “Androcles and the Lion”. Aesop, the great Greek storyteller, gave us this story of courage, kindness, and gratitude. If it has been a time since you have heard this story, listen to this nice version on the website Storynory:  It is a great story to tell.

James Daugherty’s 1939 Caldecott Honor Book, Andy and the Lion is a retelling of this ancient story.  Its subtitle is “A tale of kindness remembered or the power of gratitude.” This version is a delight to read to yourself and out loud.  When I was the story lady at our local library, this was one of my favorites to read.  I would combine it with another tale of the value of kindness by Aesop, “The Lion and the Mouse.”

What better to begin a book that with a boy and his dog, making a trip to the library?  Here are the opening lines.

It was a bright day with just enough wind to float a flag.  Andy started down to the library to get a book about lions. He took the book home and he read and read.

Andy read about lions, talked about lions, listened to his Grandpa tell stories about lions, and dreamt about lions.  He was still thinking about lions as he walked to school the next day. Much to his surprise, he met one!   As you may guess, the lion has a thorn in his paw and Andy pulls it out.  Andy was kind and the lion was grateful.

But it was time to part, so they waved good-by.  Andy went on to school and the lion went off about the business of being a lion.

I always wondered what the lion’s business might be.  It was intriguing to think about what he was getting up to while Andy was at school.  If you’ve listened to the story, you know how it ends.  Andy and the lion meet up in an unexpected way.  Andy remembers the lion and more importantly, the lion remembers his gratitude to Andy.  In each story there is a happy ending for the boy and the lion.  Here’s the last line of Andy’s story.

Andy took the book back to the library.

Its accompanying illustration shows Andy with his nose in a book, Prince (Andy’s dog), and the lion all walking to the library.  Everyone should go to the library, although these days, I don’t think that dogs or lions are allowed to come in with you.

I recommend this book to you.  Daugherty’s take on the famous fable is hilarious.  His drawings are pure Americana.  It’s a homey, playful story that delivers an important lesson about the power and importance of kindness.


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