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Lafcadio: The Lion Who Shot Back    by Shel Silverstein order for
by Shel Silverstein
Order:  USA  Can
HarperCollins, 2003 (1963)
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

This is a re-issue of Shel Silverstein's wonderful story of 'The Lion Who Shot Back', originally published in 1963. It's also available in Spanish as Lafcadio, El Leon Que Devolvio El Disparo and would be perfect for regular bedtime reading to little ones. This 'lion tail ... I mean this lion tale' is told by Uncle Shelby, who has a part to play in it as well, after he meets a lion looking for a barbershop on Dorchester Avenue.

But it starts with a young lion whose 'very happy' life in the jungle is one day interrupted by a loud noise, 'BLOWM!' All the lions start to run from the hunters, except for Lafcadio, who asks questions, interrogates a hunter (whom he eats up) and begins to shoot back. This quickly leads him to fame and fortune, after a circus man shows up with an offer of 'thousands of marshmallows ... a marshmallow suit with a marshmallow hat ... a shower with hot melted marshmallow.'

In the big city, Lafcadio's 'GRAUGRRR' very quickly deals with discrimination against lions (kids will love these parts as well as the marshmallows) and he meets Uncle Shelby, who introduces him to a barber and a tailor and sees him get started on a stupendous career. When Lafcadio hits the big time, Shelby gets picture postcards from places like 'the Eiffel Tower or the Sahara Desert'. Gradually Lafcadio becomes 'more and more like a man.' But he's not happy and he wants 'to do something new!'

The story of Lafcadio is full of irony and humor, to be enjoyed at different levels by kids and adults. It reminded me off Voltaire's Candide if written for kids, with elements of Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles. If you didn't find them in the 60s, enjoy Lafcadio's adventures now.

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