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The Lion Children Paperback – 17 Oct 2002
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"A fascinating read, the book, also contains a marvellous set of colour photographs of the family and some of the lions they met." (Animal Antics)
"a different and delightful take on living in Africa." (Traveller Magazine, 1 April 2003)
Told in their own words, the extraordinary true story of an English family who move to Africa to study lionsSee all Product description
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This is a travel memoir, and an autobiography, and an exploration of how it feels to move to a new country to start a new life... but with a twist. This time it's written by the children! The three middle McNeice children, Angus, Travers and Maisie, wrote the book, with occasional contributions by their big sister Emily, their stepsister Philippa, and their endearing little brother Oakley (who is the definitive little monkey!).
The family moved to Botswana when Kate, their mother, developed a passion for evolutionary science. Where better to see it in action than in the African bush? There she met a lion researcher, Pieter, fell in love, and the whole family joined his research project. Taking it in turns to write a piece on each aspect of African life, the children cover everything from roller hockey in Maun and home schooling in camp, to getting lost in the wilderness and the perils of malaria. There are moving sections on trophy hunting and the threat of HIV in Africa, but likewise there are joyful pieces about unforgettable birthday celebrations and adventures with new friends.
These children come across as eloquent, intelligent and affectionate, and is evident how much they have learned from their experiences and how sincere they are in their wish to contribute to the lion conservation efforts in Botswana. I'll definitely be recommending their book to all and sundry, and keeping my copy firmly on my shelves - and if ever I need a guide through the African bush, there's no one I'd rather be out there with than these kids!
We learn about the family's gradual adaptation to life in Africa, from living in the town of Maun to eventually living in a camp in the bush itself. The difficulties and joys of life in the bush are well described. The fears, excitement, upsets and wonder of their lives comes alive in the pages of this book. The hard and unforgiving life of lions in nature is well communicated to the reader. The authors write very well and crisply: this book is a clear and exciting read. Children and adults will be fascinated with it, although younger children may require the assistance of a parent or other adult to help them. The book concludes with an informative "lion fact file" in which the children's observations and studies are succintly recorded. Those interested in big cats will enjoy this book.
One thing this book demonstrates is that Science is more open than we have come to expect. The example of Kate Nicholls, the mother of the authors, who taught herself biology is a good one for everyone. With application and hard work, it is possible to study science and make a contribution to human knowledge.
In conclusion, I have no hesitation in recommending this book as a brilliant and illuminating read. It would be good to hear something of the children's lives at the moment.
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