A village of animals discover their fears have been unfounded when they encounter a hungry lion who loves fruit.
Every day, a Hawaiian village of anthropomorphic animals—a tiger, zebra, giraffe, and others—venture up the nearby mountain to harvest fruit. The village chief, an elephant, warns them not to venture too high, as she fears what may lurk in the mist.
One day, they hear a mighty roar and realize there’s a hungry, grumpy lion at the mountaintop who threatens to come to the village if they don’t send someone to see him. Twice, they send up a single resident with the best fruit they can find. Twice, they hear a loud burp and believe their friend has been eaten.
Finally, the whole village ventures up to subdue the lion. He reassures them that he only wants to eat fruit, but the patch near him no longer produces enough. The animals also learn that their friends are alive and “had not returned to the village because they chose to spend time with [the lion”] on the mountaintop.” The village joins the lion and lost friends for a meal, and the chief invites the lion to live with them in the village, where fruit is more plentiful.
The story leverages a traditional fable structure and is easy to follow. More character development, however, would have enhanced the story and made it more relatable. The text is also lengthy for a picture book; the narrative often uses three sentences when one would suffice.
The illustrations are colorful and engaging, with many vibrant animals exploring a tropical setting. However, the fact that the whole village, except Piggi the Pig, is made up of animals that aren’t native to Hawaii comes across as perplexing and unexplained rather than quirky.
Children might enjoy seeing the way the animals face their fears, but due to the issues mentioned, the story falls short of its potential.
Also available as an ebook.