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The Gentle Lion and the Little Owlet    by Alice Shirley order for
Gentle Lion and the Little Owlet
by Alice Shirley
Order:  USA  Can
Pavilion, 2013 (2013)
* *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

The inspiration for this story came from a real situation that occurred at the Paignton Zoo in England when a similar event unfolded and surprised everyone at the animal park.

In this picture book, a young owlet attempts to leave the nest one day, not realizing that his home is actually in a tree in a lion enclosure. The bird isn't quite ready for flight and ends up on the ground and up-close-and-personal with a large lion.

Rather than gobble up this feathery little snack, the lion just looks at the intruder. But then the story gets really odd. A relationship seems to develop between the two and that becomes the basis for this book.

As in the real situation, the zookeepers try to rescue the owlet but to no avail. In the story the lion and owlet are amused by the unsuccessful ploys the humans use. And, unlike the true story, eventually the two friends escape from the zoo and embark on a wonderful adventure.

A touching animal story built on a shard of truth (no one knows what eventually happened to the real owl), this tale of an unlikely friendship with its marvelous illustrations will capture the imaginations of young readers. There's a lesson to be learned here as well. Sometimes opposites do attract and unlikely relationships can work out rather well.

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