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Akimbo and the Lions

Last updated Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Author: Alexander McCall Smith
Illustrator: LeUyen Pham
Date of Publication: 2005
ISBN: 1582346879
Grade Level: 4th    (GLCs: Click here for grade level guidelines.)
Date(s) Used: May 2011

Synopsis: From Booklist:

By a well-known author of adult books, this story featuring a young boy, Akimbo, who lives "in the heart of Africa," conveys appreciation and respect for the African landscape, culture, and people, as well as a sense of the importance of wildlife conservation. Akimbo accompanies his father, a wildlife ranger, on an investigation of lion attacks on an area farm, where Akimbo finds a lion cub. He takes over the cub's care, but when it gets older, the boy knows that he must return his beloved cub to the wild. Akimbo emerges as a brave, caring protagonist who faces dilemmas and danger in the service of the animals and people he loves. The illustrations, which appear to be well-executed, soft-edged, black-and-white pictures, were not available in completed form in this galley. Pair this with Smith's Akimbo and the Elephants.

Note to readers:
•  In order to get to the end of the book, skip to the 3rd chapter (page 19).

Discussion topics for before reading:
•  Who is Akimbo?
•  How can a kid & a lion be friends? Vocabulary Words:

•  bleating (sound goats make)
•  drugged darts (would this hurt the lion?)
•  ranger
•  Simba (lion)
•  waddle, swagger
•  luxuriant

Discussion topics for during/after reading:
•  How did Akimbo take care of Simba?
•  What did Akimbo have to do after Simba had grown? Why?
•  Was this a good decision for his father to make? Why or why not?
•  Do you think Simba was happy in his new home (in the wild with other lions)?

Craft ideas:
•  Make a lion mask. Use paper plate or paper bag & yarn for the mane.
•  Draw a picture of animals you would like to see on a safari in Africa, ie lions, zebras, giraffes, rhinos, elephants.
•  Make a lion puppet! Example on our blog.

*Note: These craft ideas are just suggestions. You can use them, but you don't have to use them. You can expand upon them, or add your own twist. Remember, though, that the focus of your time should not be on the development and execution of a craft; the focus should be on the read-aloud and the enjoyment of the book!