The Lion's Deceit

The Lion's Deceit
Mpho Otukile & S.B. Bow (Illustrator)
Village Life Books, 2010

I love stories. I especially love traditional stories - my senior thesis for English was on American Tall Tales. Mpho Otukile, a native of Botswana (now living in Canada), has undertaken the challenge of recording the traditional tales she grew up hearing the village elders tell. Pairing these familiar stories with bright, simple illustrations, Otukile is successfully sharing her heritage with new generations.

The Lion's Deceit is a moral story that makes you think of Aesop's animals. Lion, great King of the  Beasts, is too lazy to do what lions do. So he and Fox cook up a scheme that appears flawless. Of course, as anyone familiar with these stories will guess, there's always some animal who catches on. In this case, it's Jackal who discovers the ruse and tells all the other animals the truth. Poor Lion's brilliant plan backfires, and he's forced deep into the jungle - where he has no choice but to behave like a lion.

I enjoyed the simplicity of the story - it's straightforward and stays true to the form of an oral tradition. The illustrations are brightly colored, but not so elaborate or overpowering as to detract or distract from the text. It's a quick read that would serve as a good starting point for a relaxed family 'teaching moment' about lying, as well as an introduction to the stories of other cultures.

Book provided by author for review.

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