My forte is definitely not children’s literature, so preparing to write this review left me wondering where to start and what changes have taken root in the field since I was child. While scrolling through Instagram recently, I noticed a post on the subject. I was laughing in stitches after a few minutes because of its irony. It was in celebration of the LGBTQ voices that found a home in children’s literature and influenced generation after generation of readers despite facing all manner of persecutions in their day-to-day lives. Subversive, revolutionary, and persistent. These voices entertained and inspired child after child to pursue their dreams and build a strong identity. And, they still do. Dyeneka Campa certainly aims to make a similar memorable impression on young children these days with Leo, The Fearless and Furless Lion though the targeted audience is the many multicultural and multilingual children that are under-represented in literature.
I bought a copy for my nephew Aaron of Leo, The Fearless and Furless Lion when Dyeneka first published it. Even though it was meant for him, I have kept it in my custody for safekeeping. It’s a kind of memento for us. At the time, he really enjoyed my reading of the book and the story itself. Leo is a young lion that doesn’t really have a mane. He looks different than his peers and is struggling with a moment of self-consciousness and lack of self-confidence. Regardless, he braves his day at school and realizes that diversity is part-and-parcel of life. The book tackles the subject of acceptance in a beautiful and multicultural way with each of its characters having a rich uniqueness to them. Children can enjoy reading and re-reading this book. It will join my list of recommended children’s books next to Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak and E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web.
Campa, Dyeneka. Leo, The Fearless and Furless Lion, Bright, Blended Books, 2017.
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