In The Place of Lions, by Eric Campbell, the main character, Chris Harris, is a regular school kid until his father decides to make a new start in Africa. When their plane crashes near a pride of lions, Chris must take care of his father and the pilot, and feels like their survival depends on an old lion staying in charge of the pride. The lion and Chris both learn that just because they are different species doesn’t mean they can’t help each other.
Chris and his father get on a small plane to Tanzania with only a pilot as the other person on board. The pilot is a nature lover, and swerves to avoid a flock of birds, which becomes a calamity when one of the wings hits a baobab tree and the plane crashes to the ground. Chris is the only one who isn’t injured too badly and he must take care of his father and the pilot. He splints his father’s broken leg and builds a shelter for the pilot, who has a punctured lung.
The plane has crashed right next to a pride of lions, with a very old lion as their leader. Chris is afraid the lions will attack, but the old lion leaves them alone, seeming to sense that they are not a threat. The old lion saves Chris’s life twice: once when the lionesses were about to attack and he calls them away, and once when poachers were threatening Chris and the lion frightened them away.
When a younger, more agile lion challenges for dominance, Chris starts to fear the worst for the older lion. The old lion decides to abandon his post as king of the pride and sets off to the one place he wants to go back to before he dies, to his birthplace. Chris accidentally helps him relocate his birthplace when the poachers chase him near that area, and the old lion rescues him from the poachers there. Chris, his father, and the pilot are eventually rescued by a safari man who comes to investigate the poachers.
Chris learns that by reaching out to help others, you may end up helping yourself. This was a good book, and I enjoyed reading it, but I think it sped through events too quickly. I think that the author message was that even if you’re a different species you can still help each other.
Place of Lions (Piper)