Cover image for Jim's lion
Jim's lion
Hoban, Russell.
Personal Author:
First U.S. edition.
Publication Information:
Cambridge, Mass. : Candlewick Press, 2001.
Physical Description:
36 unnumbered pages : color illustrations ; 30 cm
A young boy who is afraid of the operation that can help him get well learns to overcome his fear with the help of a caring nurse.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR LG 3.4 0.5 56694.
Added Author:
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PIC. BK. Juvenile Fiction Picture Books

On Order



A young boy who is afraid of the operation that can help him get well learns to overcome his fear with the help of a caring nurse.

Author Notes

Russell Hoban was born in Lansdale, Pennsylvania on February 4, 1925. He attended art school in Philadelphia and during World War II, he served in the Army and earned a Bronze Star. He taught art in New York and Connecticut, and also worked as an advertising copywriter and a freelance illustrator before beginning his career as a writer.

He began publishing children's books in the late 1950s, including What Does It Do and How Does It Work?, Bedtime for Frances and the six other books featuring Frances, The Story of Hester Mouse Who Became a Writer, What Happened When Jack and Daisy Tried to Fool the Tooth Fairies, and The Mouse and His Child, which was adapted as an animated film in 1977.

In 1973, he published his first adult novel, The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz. His other books for adults include Turtle Diary, Pilgermann, and Ridley Walker. He received the John W. Campbell Memorial Award and the Australian Science Fiction Achievement Award for Ridley Walker. He died on December 13 at the age of 86. In 2015 he made the Kate Greenaway Medal shortlist for his title Jim's Lion wth illlustrator Alexis Deacon.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Gr. 2-4, younger with an adult. In this oversize picture book for older children, Jim, who is very sick, is worried that if he is put to sleep during an operation that "the doctors might send me somewhere that I can't get back from." Friendly nurse Bami, from Africa, tells him about the "finder," an animal "in [his] head," that can look for him and bring him back. She teaches him to imagine a place that makes him feel good, where he will discover his finder. Then she presents him with a small gift that helps him face his fears and gather the courage to embrace his finder, a lion. Soft pastel illustrations, including a number of large close-ups, provide a gentle companion to this complex, touching story that will make a good springboard for discussing difficult questions about hospitalization and mortality. --Cynthia Turnquest

Publisher's Weekly Review

The late Hoban's story about a boy battling a mortal illness was first published in 2001. Turning it into a graphic novel is a tricky prospect, but Deacon (who illustrated Hoban's Soonchild) is fully up to the task. Jim lies in a hospital bed, gravely ill. He knows he may die. The ward nurse, Nurse Bami, an African woman "with tribal scars on her cheeks," tells Jim that he must search for his finder, the animal in his head "who can bring you back from wherever the doctors send you." Jim's finder, it emerges, is a lion, and, in watercolors simultaneously delicate and taut with emotion, Deacon imagines Jim and his lion fighting his sickness. Small panels capture with marvelous powers of invention the hallucinatory nature of sickness. Dreamlike worlds of death threaten to engulf Jim, are beaten back, then gather strength and attack again. Deacon's images enhance but do not overwhelm Hoban's story, which holds its own potent magic. Nurse Bami tells Jim how he'll know he's found his finder: "The real thing is always more than you're ready for," she says. This is the real thing. Ages 6-9. (Nov.) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-6-Jim lies sick in the hospital, afraid that he won't survive his upcoming operation. Nurse Bami assures him that everyone has a "finder" to guide them through their dreams and that Jim's finder will bring him back from wherever the doctors send him. That night, Jim dreams of a lion; he has met his guide. This is a spare allegory, and Deacon's illustrations complement and extend the brief text. Many of his images offer additional layers to the narrative, depicting dreams that are not mentioned by the author and giving readers a clue about Nurse Bami's own finder. A 2001 version of this story (Candlewick) features detailed, realistic pencil and pastel illustrations by Ian Andrew. Unlike Andrews' gentle interpretation, Deacon's lion is powerful and frightening, and the watercolor illustrations depict an uncertain world with shaky lines and a muted palette spiked with increasing amounts of blood red. The art highlights the feverish terror of Jim's dreams, in which pipes morph into snakes, rain falls as blood, and tree roots become multitudes of grasping arms, as red as pumping veins. The enemy is always shifting and adapting, and Deacon's sophisticated art does not hide the fact that Jim is very close to dying. The unique story and remarkable art warrant this a place in library collections, though it's difficult to pinpoint the audience. The content may be upsetting for young readers, but seem childish for older children and teens. This graphic novel-style work will best fit in middle grade collections, and may even appeal to parents.-Lisa Goldstein, Brooklyn Public Library (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.