Book Reviews: Banjo & Ruby, A Lion in Paris
Posted on April 24, 2015
Banjo & Ruby Red by Libby Gleeson and Freya Blackwood
Banjo & Ruby Red is a quintessentially Australian book with universal sensibilities. Featuring Banjo the chook dog, whose job it is to herd and gather the chooks into the shed, and Ruby Red, a chook aside from the rest of the flock, who refuses to be bossed around. Ruby Red is frustrating to Banjo, until one day he finds her injured, and carries her tenderly to his little dog house, to rest and recuperate. After her recovery, it is Banjo’s roost that the red chook rules.
Full of fun and lots of noise of the barking and squawking variety, this book is lots of fun for reading aloud and interaction, and its message that even if we don’t start out as friends, everything can change with kindness, this gorgeous book won the Children’s Book Council of Australia Honour Award 2014. You can read more about the irrepressible Banjo and Ruby Red here
A Lion in Paris by Beatrice Alemagra
The (very grand) End of this book has an inscription:
‘The lion in this story was inspired by the statue of a lion in the Place Denfert-Rochereau in Paris. It was erected by the architect Frederic Auguste Bartholdi between 1876 and 1880. I wondered why the Parisians are so fond of the lion. I think it is because he looks very happy where he is.’
And that is where this love song tour of Paris takes you. Inside a book that is almost too big to carry home from the library, and a format encompasssing several different medias, I have a sneaking suspicion that you should have been to Paris to fully appreciate this story, and I never have, yet still, it is the kind of book that I love, because of the premise of the story, beginning with a real live lion on the grasslands of somewhere, setting off to find ‘a job, love and a future.’
He lands (by train, without any luggage) in Paris, and his adventures begin.
Of course, he drinks coffee at cafes. He wonders if the people will pursue him with rifles, and though so many of them seem to carry an unknown kind of long brown sword under their arms, no one seeks to harm him, or even notice him very much. He wanders streets, and the Metro, and still the people ignore him.
The weather saddens him when it rains, and he does some more sight-seeing of the (timeless) iconic sights of the city. By evening he has fallen in love with Paris, and when he finds an empty plinth just waiting for his majestic bulk, he climbs up and ROARS.
The lion has found what he was looking for, and there he stays.
If you love Paris, run out and buy this book for your children, otherwise read it to them (though it may be bigger than them) and sow an early enchantment with the city of love.