The Place of Lions, by Eric Campbell, is about a boy named Chris Harris who lives in your average modern city in the United States. A while back, Chris had lost his mother from an illness. When his father tells him that they’re moving to Africa, he is overjoyed. But when their plane crashes, what then? In this book, Chris finds out that surviving in the wilderness is not all fun and games, and can be very dangerous.
When Chris is in Africa with his father, they take a plane to get to their new home. When the plane’s engine fails and it crashes into the planes of Tanzania, it leaves Chris, his father, and the pilot stranded in the vast wilderness. His father has a broken leg, the pilot is near dead, and Chris has an injury as well, but he is the only one who can move about freely. He scavenges the crashed plane for food and shelter, making a tent to protect them from the sun and finding some scraps of food. While Chris is out scavenging, a pack of lions moves in on him.
They toy with him for a bit until the leader of the pack comes, and Chris can make a run for it. But he stays out of sight, watching what happens. The pack leader gets wounded and is shunned, being replaced by a younger lion. The rest of the lions leave, and eventually even the former pack leader is gone from Chris’s sight.
While that happens, there is a man named Mike Taylor, who hunts poachers, trying to keep the wildlife safe. Mike is taking a tourist from New York, Hyram Johnson, to see the thing he most wants: an elephant. When they finally get around to seeing an elephant, it’s a dead one. Poachers had killed it for its ivory, setting Mike and Hyram on their quest to find the poachers and put them to a stop.
As Mike and Hyram are off hunting the poachers, Chris has been talking with his father and has figured out which direction the nearest town is in by the route they took. Chris leaves early in the morning, leaving his father and the near-dead pilot to try and get help. After walking a while, he realizes that the old lion is following him! Except the lion is no threat. It is wounded, and is traveling with Chris if only to give him energy to keep him going.
Mike and Hyram cannot find the poachers and are about to give up, when they reach a hill and they see a person, thinking it’s one of the poachers, they raise a gun and prepare to fire. That is when they see that it is not a poacher, but a small boy, who is being followed by the lion, completely unaware of the danger. They aim for the lion instead, determined to save the boy.
Chris sees that it is harder for the lion to keep on going. Eventually the lion stops, and Chris turns around to stand next to it. The lion gets up again and they travel to the hill. That is when Chris gets rescued and the lion leaves, this time for good.
As you can see, surviving in the wilderness is difficult. This is an excellent book, fast-paced and written well. Things got a little odd at times, like how Chris felt “connected” to the lion until they reached the hill, where they separated, and it was never really explained why. I recommend this book to people. It’s a great read.
Place of Lions (Piper)