Katie Cotton, Counting Lions. Drawings by Stephen Walton
Published 2015 by Frances Lincoln Children’s Books. 40p
So many times we honor civilization forgetting about the values and beauty of nature. Gradually humanity has destroyed animals’ habitats and urbanization and industrialization’s effects can now be seen everywhere. Removing animals from their own reality, bringing them in captivity, killing them for personal trophies are attitudes that do not describe civilization.
The reduction of animal species has become a serious problem worldwide. Counting Lions is a wonderful book celebrating wildlife. Children will start at one and end at ten but counting has never been harder for me than now. All of the species here, tigers, elephants, giraffes, penguins, gorillas are endangered or vulnerable species and counting becomes symbolical, bringing awareness on the decreasing numbers of these beautiful beings.
Every page is a visual delight; Stephen Walton’s charcoal drawings are impressive. They are so realistic that you might think they are photographs. Absolutely stunning. The texts describing the animals’ behavior and environment are captivating and extremely poetic.
travel the dusty paths of memory. From the day of their birth, the babies walk, walk into adulthood and beyond, following the paths set by their mothers, who follow the paths set by many mothers before them. Vast lands are covered in the ceaseless search for food and water – a never-ending journey for these five travellers.
The end pages of the book provide information on each species and their protection status. As Virginia McKenna said in her Foreword, counting animals should be done with confidence and happiness not with a heavy heart:
My hope is that this book will awaken a similar sense of wonder in all who read it and look at Stephen Walton’s beautiful images. That the knowledge that animals feel contentment and sadness as we do, protect their young, are sometimes brave and sometimes afraid, will ensure that counting animal numbers will be something we do not with a heavy heart, but with optimism and joy.