The Lion Inside

Longlisted for the North Somerset Teachers' Book Award Picture Book category.

Picture Book Title: The Lion Inside

Author: Rachel Bright

Illustrator: Jim Field

Publishers: Orchard Books

ISBN: 9781408331590

Under the shade of a large craggy rock lives a mouse- a tiny, down trodden mouse. High above him, at the top of the craggy rock, lives a lion- a strong lion, a shouty, tough lion. 

Mouse envies Lion and wonders if he could just learn to ‘roar’ whether he would be in a position to earn the respect of others and make friends, as Lion has. He pushes his feelings of inadequacy aside and sets out to ask the one person, who he fears the most, for his assistance- Lion. In his heart, Mouse knows that ’if you want things to change, first you have to change you’ and this motivates him to set aside his anxieties to seek self improvement. 

Eventually, Mouse finds himself nose to nose with his dreaded hero, not knowing if he will have enough courage to ask for help or whether he will end up as dinner? In the biggest twist of a tale (or tail), it turns out that lion has a touch of musophobia and is more afraid of our sweet little mouse then Mouse is of him! Mouse finally finds his voice and lets Lion know there’s nothing to worry about and even asks if they can be friends.

At the end of our story, Lion finds a true friend to share his rock with and Mouse finds that you don’t need to roar or shout to be heard- you just need to be lion-hearted and seek the ‘Lion Inside’.

This is a fabulous fable, creatively told with a language-rich narrative. Readers will love the characters of Lion and Mouse and are sure to identify with their strengths and weaknesses. Jim Field’s gorgeous images bring the story to life and Rachel Bright’s wonderful words add a depth of feeling that move this book from the realms of ‘bedtime story’ to ‘beloved classic’.

A must have story about finding courage within yourself that wouldn’t be out of place in any primary school classroom.


Reading Teaching Ideas:

Discuss and infer what the story might be about and what is meant by the blurb heading: ‘You don’t have to be big and brave to find your roar’.

Look for examples of rhyming words and other figurative language used throughout the story. 

Compare this story to other stories about being brave. How do characters find their ‘Lion Inside’?

Read a variety of other fables and identify and compare the morals. Discuss why we have stories that teach us important life lessons.


Writing Teaching Ideas:

Using either the image of the Lion viewing the mouse for the first time, or the Lion’s reaction on the next page as inspiration for writing thought and speech bubbles. What is the mouse thinking? What is the lion thinking? What is mouse saying and what is Lion saying?

Look for the superlative adjectives and adverbs- ‘in a tinyful house’ lived the ‘meekest brown mouse’ -and write your own sentences using  exaggerated descriptions.

Write a set of instructions for teaching Mouse to roar.

Think about unlikely animal friends and write your own story of how they meet, what they learn from each other and how they could become friends.


Cross Curricular Teaching Ideas (Science, Computing, D&T, Art, PSHE):

Science - research animal food chains- do lions eat mice?

Art - Look at Jim Field’s website and the evolution of his illustrations. Draw your own lion and mouse and then work together with a friend to evolve or improve your illustration.

PHSE - Discuss the sensitivities we have that are based on what we look like. Discuss fears and how we feel when they are overcome. Make an origami mouse of fears and strengths- ‘If you want things to change, first you have to change you’.