Mar 31, 2008

The Girl Who Married a Lion by Alexander McCall Smith (And Giveaways Galore)

The Girl Who Married a Lion: Folktales from Africa is a collection of traditional stories from Zimbabwe and Botswana, retold for young readers by Alexander McCall Smith. These stories are retold with spirit and humour, in a language that is accessible and simple—but not too simple. This is certainly a book that both children and adults can enjoy.

In these stories, a drowned girl is brought back to life by crocodiles, Hare ticks Lion several times, a man discovers a tree that provides him with food if he sings to it, a brave hunter learns that cruelty often comes at a high price, friends quarrel and are reconciled, the cost of ingratitude is shown, and of course, a girl marries a lion. These are stories about hyenas, jackals, leopards, goats, crocodiles, lions, hares, and elephants. But they are also stories about people, about loyalty and companionship and perseverance and astuteness and trust.

As Alexander McCall Smith writes in the book’s introduction,
These stories are often funny, but sometimes they are sad—just like life itself. They all tell us something about things like courage and selfishness. They show us that it’s not very clever to trick others, and that you should be kind to your friends and to people who are weaker than you, and so on.
Indeed, many of these stories had me laughing out loud, despite dealing serious subject matters such as hunger and betrayal. It goes to show how learning to laugh at things is better than letting them beat us. My enjoyment of this book was greatly increased by Naomi Holwill’s many wonderful illustrations, some of which can be found here. Sadly some of my favourites are not available online. They are simple black and white illustrations, but they are so incredibly expressive. The looks on the faces of the animals often had me giggling before I even read the story.

This book is a fast read (too fast—it was over much too soon), but a rewarding one nonetheless, and I look forward to getting my hands on its companion volume, The Baboon Who Went This Way and That.

Other Opinions:
Reading Adventures

Buy A Friend a Book Week is being celebrated all over the book blogging world - there are lots of giveaways going on right now! Jenclair's weekly giveaway is a copy of The Shape-Changer's Wife by Sharon Shinn. Leave her a comment here to be entered. Chartroose is giving away five books, including the popular A Thousand Splending Suns. Click here for details. Jaimie is giving away 3 very interesting sounding books here. And finally, Dewey is also celebrating both BAFAB Week and her blogiversary! She is giving away two $20 Amazon gift certificates. Aren't book bloggers great?


  1. I really enjoyed this when I read it a while ago. I must check if my library has the second book.

  2. Sounds fun and something I would like for sure. I need to get around to all those blogs and bag me some free books!

  3. wow must enter them all!
    and I'm thinking of hosting one too, just to join in the fun:P I just have to think of what books to offer...h

  4. I want to add this book to my wishlist! I love the cover too!! And thanks for sharing the links with us about the giveaways, must check them out. ;)

  5. This sounds great. I just finished reading Dream Angus by Alexander McCall Smith, which is part of the Canongate Myth series in which authors retell some of the classic myths from around the world. Dream Angus is the Celtic god of dreams and love. It was also a fast, enjoyable read.

  6. Book bloggers are awesome! :)

  7. I really enjoy Alexander McCall Smith's Ladies' #1 Detective Agency series, but I haven't read any of his other books. This does sound like a great collection of stories.

    I added a link to your contest tonight, Nymeth. BAFAB Week is such a festive time!

  8. Marg, I hope your library does have it!

    Rhinoa, you would like it indeed. Good luck on all the giveaways!

    Valentina: Do join the fun!

    Melody: Isn't the cover cute?

    Lisa: I read that one for last year's challenge and I really loved it. It was actually one of my favourite reads of the year. I'm slowly but surely reading all the books in the Canongate series. So far I've enjoyed them all.

    Bunny B: Indeed they are :)

    Literary Feline: I have yet to start that series. I've read mixed reviews, but I want to see how it is for myself, of course. So far I've enjoyed the books of his that I've read. And thanks! I'll post about your giveaway too later today.

  9. Your review got me so excited that I jumped over to the library website before I even commented. Anyway, I'm so happy that our library does have this one. And as much as I'm sure I'll enjoy it, I know Annie will love it even more! Thanks Nymeth!

  10. The African folktales are another group, like the Indian ones I referenced in my Wood Wife review, that I probably would not have discovered an immense enjoyment for if not for the work of Neil Gaiman. That man single-handedly, through his work and the connections to others I have made through his work/blog, has opened my eyes to so much wonder that I never knew existed.

  11. Debi, I'm very glad your library has it! I hope both you and Annie enjoy it. I think you both will

    Carl, I know exactly what you mean :)

  12. I'm a fan of the Mma Ramotswe series so I definitely need to check this one out!
    And, yes, book bloggers are great - so many people are sharing the book love by giving away books! :)

  13. Hi Nymeth *waving*

    How are you today?? Just checking in to see how you are...

    This book sounds really wonderful! You know I love your reviews!


    Did I thank you for linking my contest page? LOL Thank you...two little words. I know they mean a lot, but it just never seems like enough!

  14. Iliana: I have to look for that series!

    Amy, you are too sweet. I'm glad you enjoyed my review :)

  15. sounds like a fun book! I love folktales; I took a folklore course my first year of grad school and loved it. I'll have to dig out some of my old notes and stories from storage for the OUT2 challenge.


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