If it's your birthday this month, you are connected
with Leo the Lion. I'm not sure what that means exactly, but the two Leos in my
life have lots of hair like a lion's mane and don't mind being the center of
attention. Every month I write a hedge a gram about my illustrations.
My new book, which will be published this month, is called Honey...Honey...Lion!
When my husband and I went back for our third trip to
Africa, the experience I was longing for was hearing the sounds of the bush from
our tent. Just at daybreak we'd hear the raucous screams of francolins, a kind
of ground bird. I don't exaggerate when I say screams. They make a big fuss as
they defend their territories. A loud bark would signal a troop of baboons as
they passed through our camp ground. Or an impala might give a warning snort. My
favorite sound was the hyenas and usually they would woop not laugh. The first
time I heard it, I couldn't imagine what it was.
Usually our camp would be by a water hole and
hippos would start up sounding like loud men going, "Ha, ha, ha!" But the most
spectacular call of all - you probably have guessed by now, is the lion. The
first time I heard a lion roar was about 2:00AM. Some young lions had made a
kill. I thought it was a train, it was so loud and rumbling. The air vibrated it
was so low. On our last trip, just as dusk fell, our guide, Ali, heard a lion
miles away and turned our Land Rover toward the sound. Fifteen minutes later, we
came out into a thicket and there, looking like the lions in front of the New
York Public Library, as if posed, were two brother lions, side by side. It
doesn't make sense that these strong hungry young lions would ignore us, but
they did! As we watched, one roared, not ten feet away. Every molecule in our
bodies shook as the vibrations from that sound penetrated us. We felt terrified
Now when I sit in my studio and page through
Honey...Honey...Lion! I wonder when I will hear a lion's roar again. I turn to
the end of my book where there's a lift up flap that reveals the king of beasts.
Then I wonder, will children feel a little bit of the wonder I felt when they
see my picture? I hope so.
Kids, you have a little time before school starts. Why
not think of an experience that made your heart pound or one that caused great
excitement. Maybe you could draw it. Just like an artist uses many, many colors,
try telling a story with lots of your feelings shining through. You may be
surprised at what creates itself from your paper and pencils.
Good luck and happy drawing.