Little Lion: A long way home
Written by Saroo Brierley; with Larry Buttrose
Illustrated by Bruce Whatley
Reviewed by Zewlan Moor
Many readers will be familiar with Saroo Brierley’s story, as seen in the award-winning film, Lion. It is an incredible story of how 5 year old Saroo came to be separated from his brother and family in India.
He was carried far from home on a train and then survived for weeks on the streets before being taken to an orphanage. Eventually he was adopted by an Australian couple and raised in Australia. As an adult he used new technology to find the family he had lost.
This is an eye-opening story suitable for confident readers from about Year 3 upwards to read alone. It has much longer text than the usual picture book, and would suit a classroom read-aloud over several sessions with mid- to upper-primary students.
There are details about the poverty of India, the necessity of child labour within the family and how a young child could go missing and not be found. Therefore it might not be suitable for very sensitive children, but the elements of hope and optimism are strong. It is also a heroic journey about an everyday Australian migrant hero.
All in all, Little Lion is a suspenseful tale, meticulously illustrated in a photo-realist painting style by Bruce Whatley. It is a good introduction to memoir for primary students, in a format that gently introduces children to longer texts.