Lion Scream by Robbie Cheadle is not a poetry collection or an expository nonfiction book about African animals. It’s not a memoir of personal encounters with wild animals or a picture book of animal photography and video links. The book is not a cautionary tale about the harm that humans are doing to our world’s animal populations. At least, it’s not just any one of the above—Lion Scream is all of these at once and is the most important book I’ve read this year.
By writing this book as an interactive casebook, alternating various approaches to the subject of wild animals and mass extinction, Cheadle grabs and holds the reader’s attention. She structures the book by the multitude of animals found in South Africa, from dung beetles to hippos. Within each short section are various brief approaches to the subject. Sometimes a poem that might be written “in character” as an individual animal introduces the topic and is followed by a knowledgeable description of the animal, its habitat, and some unique features.
In this way, I learned so much that I did not know. For instance, cheetahs are the fastest land animals in the world, but there are only 7,000 of them left in the wild! And a real dilemma is that they are in great danger in protected lands because they are prey to lions and other animals. Still, in unprotected land, they are under threat from the most dangerous, worst animals on the planet—humans. Likewise, I learned that wild dogs are very endangered animals. Cheadle says leopards are already “extinct in 67% of the country.” The information includes details such as that female hyenas have a penis-like appendage, and sometimes their babies suffocate in the birth canal. In addition, the female and infant hyenas eat before the males.
Underlying the book is a premise that makes this such an important book: we live in a time of the Sixth Mass Extinction. A mass extinction is when a large portion of biodiversity dies out. Natural events have caused previous extinctions, but the Sixth Mass Extinction is caused by human activity. If we think of what is happening with so many species endangered or becoming extinct in this long-view lens, we can see that this is a huge subject and one that we all have a hand in. If we are causing it, we ought to be able to fix it. The time to change this trend toward extinction is yesterday, but since we’ve already gone past that, it’s NOW.
Cheadle concludes the book with a short story, “The Nutcracker,” about a girl with extreme anxiety and depression over the Sixth Mass Extinction. The story is well-told and thoughtful. But Cheadle’s analysis of the story that comes afterward is particularly fascinating as both a push to the reader to read deeply into the story and as a summary of the importance of the book itself.
I am so glad I read this book, and now I want to make some changes in my life!
You can purchase Lion Scream at Amazon in either paperback or Kindle version. Note that there are photographs and links to videos in the book. I hope that will help you decide which version to go with. Here is the link: LION SCREAM AT AMAZON
I discovered Robbie because I started participating in Colleen Chesebro’s #TankaTuesday syllabic poetry fun, and I am amazed at all Robbie’s talents. In addition to being a prolific writer and baker/cook, she is a beautiful artist as well. Robbie is also a generous spirit to the blogging and writing community. That she also has published this important ecobook in an effort to help save the planet really warms my heart. Thank you, Robbie!
ROBBIE CHEADLE’S BIO
Award-winning, bestselling author, Robbie Cheadle, has published thirteen children’s book and two poetry books. Her work has also appeared in poetry and short story anthologies.
Robbie also has two novels published under the name of Roberta Eaton Cheadle and has horror, paranormal, and fantasy short stories featured in several anthologies under this name.
The ten Sir Chocolate children’s picture books, co-authored by Robbie and Michael Cheadle, are written in sweet, short rhymes which are easy for young children to follow and are illustrated with pictures of delicious cakes and cake decorations. Each book also includes simple recipes or biscuit art directions which children can make under adult supervision.
Robbie’s blog includes recipes, fondant and cake artwork, poetry, and book reviews.