The Happy Lion

by | Mar 24, 2024 | Book Review, Picture Book

Through the forest (cover)

Book Details

The Happy Lion

Louise Fatio, illus. Roger Duvoisin. London: Scallywag Press, pb, 978-1-912650-13-2, 2019, £6.99, 32pp.

Picture book, 3-7 years.

This classic, quirky tale of a happy lion’s experiences living in a small French town returns with a 2019 edition by Scallywag Press.

This much-loved story of a happy lion living in a small French town returns with Scallywag Press’s 2019 re-publication. Written and illustrated by husband and wife duo Roger Duvoisin and Louise Fatio, 9 more Happy Lion books follow in the series.

More than 60 years after its original publication, this new edition has a retro style, retaining Roger Duvoisin’s stylish and expressive black-and-white illustrations alongside its iconic red and yellow cover. 

The tale itself is amusing and heartwarming; when the gentle lion’s closure is left unlocked one day, he decides to take a walk around town, thinking it would be friendly to return the visits his human friends often pay to him. This results in chaotic consequences, where, much to the lion’s confusion, he unintentionally strikes terror in the town’s population, who do confusing things like running away and fainting. 

The lion’s innocent good nature and lack of understanding of the world is challenged by these reactions, but this discomfort is salvaged by his true friendship with François, the zookeeper’s son. For the 21st century reader, the welfare implications of the the lion’s barren and small zoo enclosure may feel slightly uncomfortable and outdated. However, the book’s central story remains timeless, focussing on the heartwarming bond between François and the lion, and the tale has unsurprisingly endured into the 21st century.


Review by Emily Gilbert