Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Little Lion: A Long Way Home

Little Lion: A Long Way Home by Saroo Brierley, illustrated by Bruce Whatley (Puffin) HB RRP $24.99 ISBN9780143795094

Reviewed by Dianne Bates

This book is based on an inspiring true story that became an internationally best-selling book and award-winning film, Lion. It tells the story of its author, Saroo Brierley, who became lost on a train when he was only five, surviving on the streets before being taken into an orphanage and adopted by his Australian family. Despite being happy, Saroo always wondered where he was from. One day, after years of 25 years of searching, he miraculously found what he was looking for (by using Google Earth to identify the town from which he came.)

This book is more of an illustrated story than a conventional picture book. On the right-hand pages is the story, told in paragraphs, while the left-hand side pages feature full-size illustrations. The realistic artwork is stunning, though it is difficult to decipher if they were painted by the illustrator or if he used computer-generated images. Perhaps he used both. It would have been good for there to have been a note to indicate which. Under the story on the left-hand side on each page is a small and delicate black and white illustrative vignette – a child, a railway station, a bridge and so on.

The story has been told with Larry Buttrose by the man who became lost. When Saroo is finally reunited with his mother and family, he realises he has a different name. The brother who was with him in Calcutta when they were parted, he learns, was killed in a train accident at the same time which meant his mother had lost two sons that night.

This incredible true story celebrates the importance of hope and never giving up. It is a tribute to Saroo that he was so determined to reunite with his family. And, too, it is a tribute to his adoptive Australian family who raised him.

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