"Remember, I am with you always to the end of the age" (Mt 28:20)

All I Really Need To Know I Learn From Children's Books: The Happy Lion (BOOK 4)

Drawing of a Lion by Peter Paul Rubens

Today's "All I Really Need To Know I Learn From Children's Books" BOOK 4 is "The Happy Lion."

Book Details:
Author: Louise Fatio and Roger Duvoisin (Illustrator)
Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf New York
Year: 1954

Daniel In The Lions Den by Peter Paul Rubens
There was once a very happy lion.

His home was not the hot and dangerous plains of Africa where hunters lie in wait with their guns, it was a lovely French town with brown tile roofs and gray shutters.
The happy lion had a house in the town zoo, all for himself, with a large rock garden surrounded by a moat, in the middle of a park with flower beds and a bandstand.

Early every morning, Francois, the keeper’s son, stopped on his way to school to say, “Bonjour, Happy Lion.”

A Study of a Sleeping Lion for Daniel In The Lions Den
by Peter Paul Rubens
Afternoons, Monsieur Dupont, the schoolmaster, stopped on his way home to say, “Bonjour, Happy Lion.” Evenings, Madame Pinson, who knitted all day on the bench by the bandstand, never left without saying, “Au revoir, Happy Lion.”

On summer Sundays, the town band filed into the bandstand to play waltzes and polkas. And the happy lion closed his eyes to listen. He loved music. Everyone was his friend and came to say “Bonjour” and offer meat and other tidbits. He was a happy lion.

One morning, the happy lion found that his keeper had forgotten to close the door of his house. “Hmm,” he said, “I don’t like that. Anyone may walk in.” “Oh well,” he added on second thought, “maybe I will walk out myself and see my friends in town. It will be nice to return their visits.” 

Lion Rugissant by Peter Paul Rubens
So the happy lion walked out into the park and said, “Bonjour, my friends” to the busy sparrows. “Bonjour, Happy Lion,” answered the busy sparrows. And he said, “Bonjour, my friend” to the quick red squirrel who sat on his tail and bit into a walnut. “Bonjour, Happy Lion,” said the red squirrel, hardly looking up.

The Head of a Rider mauled by a Lion by Peter Paul Rubens

Then the happy lion went into the cobblestone street where he met Monsieur Dupont just around the corner. “Bonjour” he said, nodding in his polite lion way. “Hooooooooohhh ...” answered Monsieur Dupont, and fainted onto the sidewalk.
“What a silly way to say bonjour,” said the happy lion, and he padded along on his big soft paws. 

Three Heads by Peter Paul Rubens

Bonjour, Mesdames,” the happy lion said farther down the street when he saw three ladies he had known at the zoo.

Himuuuuuuuuuuhhhhhh ...” cried the three ladies, and ran away as if an ogre were after them.

I can’t think,” said the happy lion, “what makes them do that. They are always so polite at the zoo.” 

Head of Woman by Peter Paul Rubens
“Bonjour, Madame.” The happy lion nodded again when he caught up with Madame Pinson near the grocery store. “Oo la la ... !” cried Madame Pinson, and threw her shopping bag full of vegetables into the lion’s face. “A-a-a-a-choooooo,” sneezed the lion. “People in this town are foolish, as I begin to see.” 

Lion detail by Peter Paul Rubens
Now the lion began to hear the joyous sounds of a military march. He turned around the next corner, and there was the town band, marching down the street between two lines of people.

Ratatatum ratata ratatatum ratatata boom boom.

Before the lion could even nod and say, “Bonjour” the music became screams and yells. What a hubbub! Musicians and spectators tumbled into one another in their flight toward doorways and sidewalk cafes. Soon the street was empty and silent.

The lion sat down and meditated. “I suppose,” he said, “this must be the way people behave when they are not at the zoo.” Then he got up and went on with his stroll in search of a friend who would not faint, or scream, or run away.

Etude of Lion by Peter Paul Rubens
But the only people he saw were pointing at him excitedly from the highest windows and balconies. 

Now what was this new noise the lion heard? “Toootoooooot... hoootooooootooooot...” went that noise. “HooooottooooooTOOOOOOOOOHHHOOOOT ...” and it grew more and more noisy. “It may be the wind,” said the lion. “Unless it is the monkeys from the zoo, all of them taking a stroll.” 

Lion Hunt by Peter Paul Rubens

All of a sudden a big red fire engine burst out of a side street, and came to a stop not too, too far from the lion.

Then a big van came backing up on the other side of him with its back door wide open.

The lion just sat down very quietly, for he did not want to miss what was going to happen.

The firemen got off the fire engine and advanced very, very slowly toward the lion, pulling their big fire hose along.

Very slowly they came closer... and closer... and the fire hose crawled on like a long snake, longer and longer . . . SUDDENLY, behind the lion, a little voice cried, “Bonjour, Happy Lion.” 
Head Of A Youth-Christ Child by Peter Paul Rubens
It was Francois, the keeper’s son, on his way home from school! 

He had seen the lion and had come running to him. The happy lion was so VERY HAPPY to meet a friend who did not run and who said “Bonjour” that he forgot all about the firemen.

And he never found out what they were going to do, because Francois put his hand on the lion’s great mane and said, “Let’s walk back to the park together.” “Yes, let’s,” purred the happy lion.

So Francois and the happy lion walked back to the zoo. The firemen followed behind in the fire engine, and the people on the balconies and in the high windows shouted at last, “BONJOUR! HAPPY LION!”

From then on the happy lion got the best tidbits the town saved for him. But if you opened his door he would not wish to go out visiting again. He was happier to sit in his rock garden while on the other side of the moat Monsieur Dupont, Madame Pinson, and all his old friends came again like polite and sensible people to say “Bonjour, Happy Lion.”

Lion Detail by Peter Paul Rubens

But he was happiest when he saw Francois walk through the park every afternoon on his way home from school. Then he swished his tail for joy, for Francois remained always his dearest friend. 


Word Of God: (See full text below)

1. Luke 24:13–35 (With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?”)

Questions and Considerations To Ponder:

1. "The truth is like a lion; you don’t have to defend it; let it loose; it will defend itself.” St Augustine

2. When the two disciples on their way to Emmaus learned the true meaning of the events, e.g., the truth of the scriptures and the resurrection, then they return to the Holy City and carry on their own Christian apostolate by spreading the news of the resurrection. How do you find yourself in the shoes of the two disciples?

Fr JM Manzano SJ

Luke 24:13–35

They recognized Jesus in the breaking of bread.

That very day, the first day of the week, two of Jesus’ disciples were going to a village seven miles from Jerusalem called Emmaus, and they were conversing about all the things that had occurred. And it happened that while they were conversing and debating, Jesus himself drew near and walked with them, but their eyes were prevented from recognizing him. He asked them, “What are you discussing as you walk along?” They stopped, looking downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, said to him in reply, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know of the things that have taken place there in these days?” And he replied to them, “What sort of things?” They said to him, “The things that happened to Jesus the Nazarene, who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, how our chief priests and rulers both handed him over to a sentence of death and crucified him. But we were hoping that he would be the one to redeem Israel; and besides all this, it is now the third day since this took place. Some women from our group, however, have astounded us: they were at the tomb early in the morning and did not find his body; they came back and reported that they had indeed seen a vision of angels who announced that he was alive. Then some of those with us went to the tomb and found things just as the women had described, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “Oh, how foolish you are! How slow of heart to believe all that the prophets spoke! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Then beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he interpreted to them what referred to him in all the Scriptures. As they approached the village to which they were going, he gave the impression that he was going on farther. But they urged him, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening and the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them. And it happened that, while he was with them at table, he took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and gave it to them. With that their eyes were opened and they recognized him, but he vanished from their sight. Then they said to each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he spoke to us on the way and opened the Scriptures to us?” So they set out at once and returned to Jerusalem where they found gathered together the eleven and those with them who were saying, “The Lord has truly been raised and has appeared to Simon!” Then the two recounted what had taken place on the way and how he was made known to them in the breaking of bread.