Book review by
Matt Berman, Common Sense Media
Lionboy Book Poster Image
Brilliant premise -- so-so execution.

Parents say

age 2+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 7+
Based on 8 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.


Charlie's parents are kidnapped, bound, and gagged. The lions attack and injure Rafi. The threat of violence hangs over Charlie's escape.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A drunken police officer. Charlie sneaks the tranquilizers meant for the captive lions into the liontamer's food and drink.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this book hints at issues including corrupt drug companies and governments, animal treatment and captivity, and the environment. There also is a very positive portrayal of several interracial families.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Parent of a 7 and 9-year-old Written byMountainMom February 8, 2009

The AudioCD Version: A fantastic way for the whole family to enjoy car rides

Our family just finished listening to the audio CD on car rides (to/from school, lessons, etc). Our 9 year old thoroughly enjoyed it, as have my husband and I.... Continue reading
Adult Written bycoolnot April 9, 2008
Teen, 17 years old Written byShooter913 December 10, 2012

Lion Boy

This is a really good book for people who loves fantasy and mystery.
Kid, 12 years old February 26, 2012

Must read!

I went through the trilogy in three days unable to put it down, it's just a book every one should read!

What's the story?

In a slightly future world where pollution and asthma are rampant and cars are banned, Charlie's scientist parents are kidnapped. Pursued by their thuggish kidnapper, Rafi, and unwittingly carrying the formula for which they were taken, Charlie sets out to rescue them. Though his chances seem remote, he has one thing working in his favor: he can talk with cats, and cats all over the world, who know more about his parents than he does, are motivated to help him out.

He hooks up with a floating circus headed to France, where the cats say his parents have been taken, and meets a family of lions longing for escape. While working as the liontamer's helper he plots a way to arrange the lions' return to Africa while following his parents, who are now headed to Venice. But Rafi is closing in.

Is it any good?

It's a brilliant premise that should have worked. You have a boy who can talk to cats (and lions!), a floating circus and later the Orient Express for settings, a child out to rescue both lions and his parents, a touch of fantasy, and an adventure spanning the width of Europe. It does eventually start to work, but only about three-quarters of the way through.

The whole thing has the pacing of a fly in honey -- lots of buzzing, but not getting much of anywhere. It might have worked if Charlie had some personality or voice or humor, but he's pretty much a cipher -- Our Hero Who Speaks to Cats. Those children who make it to the end will be rewarded by a very exciting last section and a cliffhanger ending, and will want the sequel immediately. But many kids won't get that far.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the future imagined in this series. How is it similar to and different from the world today? Do you think it's a pessimistic or optimistic view of the future? Does it seem plausible, given the situation of the world today?

Book details

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