Author-and-illustrator team Paul Waring and Camilla Ring have created a friendly and timely picture book celebrating a young gay lion’s journey towards selfhood and, ultimately, toward complete acceptance by his family.
George the lion is thrilled to proclaim to the world exactly who and what he is: “I’m gay,” he roars across the African plain so all the animals – the chimps, the warthogs and the zebras – can hear. Only his father, the mighty king of the plain, is upset by the news and cannot accept his son’s revelation.
Unable and unwilling to be anything except completely himself, George heads out into the world to find a new community to call his own. In the end, it is George’s father who is left feeling bereft and lonely. He begs his son’s forgiveness, and soon the lion pride is reunited in love.
Camilla Ring’s lovely illustrations bring George’s African world to charming life in hues of dusty yellow, orange and delicate green. Her animal characters have true personality, good humor and serve this story well. Paul Waring’s heartfelt text isn’t always as strong: It suffers from the want of an editor’s disciplined hand, as commas appear where periods should, while sentences tilt towards awkwardness as they struggle for a rhyme that isn’t always worth the fight: rhyming “son” and “gone” for example, or using the word “out” twice in one stanza.
Nonetheless, the positive message of George the Gay Lion is undeniable: the book is a joyful celebration of love that children will respond to in kind. With a thoughtful, thorough edit, it could be welcomed just as warmly as George is in this tender tale about tolerance.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.