Synopses & Reviews
Chapter OneOnce there was a young lion and his name was -- well, I don't really know what his name was because he lived in the jungle with a lot of other lions and if he did have a name it certainly wasn't a name like Joe or Ernie or anything like that. No, it was more of a lion name like, oh, maybe Grograph or Ruggrrg or Grmmff or Grrrrr.Well, anyway, he had a name like that and he lived in the jungle with the other lions and he did the usual lion things like jumping and playing in the grass and swimming in the, river and eating rabbits and chasing other lions and sleeping in the sun, and he was very happy.Well, then, one day -- I believe it was a Thursday -- after all the lions had eaten a good lunch and were sleeping in the sun, snoring lions' snores, and the sky was blue and the birds were going kaw kaw and the grass was blowing in the breeze and it was quiet and wonderful, suddenly . . .There was such a loud sound, all the lions woke up fast and jumped straight up in the air. And they started to run. Lickety-split, lickety-clipt or clippety-clop, clippety-clop, or is that the way horses run? Well, they ran whatever way lions run. I don't know, maybe even pippety-pat. Anyway, they all ran away -- Well, "almost all. There was one lion that did not run, and that is the one I am going to tell you the story about. This one lion, he just sat up and blinked and winked in the sun and stretched his arms -- well, maybe he stretched his paws -- and he rubbed the sleep out of his eyes and he said, "Hey, why is everybody running?"And an old lion who was running by said, "Run, kid, run, run, run, run, run, the hunters are coming.""Hunters? Hunters? What are hunters?" said the young lion, stillblinking in the sun."Look," said the old lion, 44 you'd better stop asking so many questions and just run if you know what's good for you."So the young lion got up and stretched and began to run with the other lions. Pippity-pat, or was it clippety-clop? I think we have gone through all of this before.And after he had run for a while, he stopped and looked back."Hunters," he said to himself, "I wonder what hunters are?"And he said the name hunters over and over to himself: "Hunters, hunters." And you know, he "liked the sound of the name hunters -- you know, the way some people like the sound of the words Tuscaloosa or tapioca or Carioca or gumbo, he liked the sound of the word hunters.So he let all the other lions run ahead and he stopped and he hid in the tall grass, and soon he could see the hunters coming and they all stood on their hind feet and they all wore nice little red caps and they all carried funny sticks that made loud noises.And the young lion liked their looks.Yes he just liked their looks. So when a nice hunter with green eyes and one tooth missing in the front passed by the tall grass with his funny red cap (that had some egg salad on it, by the way) the young lion stood up."Hi, hunter," he said."Good heavens," cried the hunter, "a ferocious lion, a dangerous lion, a roaring, bloodthirsty man-eating lion.""I am not a man-eating lion," said the young lion. "I eat rabbits and blackberries.""No excuses," said the hunter. "I am going to shootYOU.""But I give up," said the young lion, and he put up his paws in the air."Don't be silly," said the hunter. "Who ever heard of a lion giving up. Lions don't give up, lions fight to the en& Lions eat up hunters! So I must shoot younow and make you into a nice rug and put you in front of my fireplace and on cold winter evenings I will sit on you and toast marshmallows.""Well, my goodness, you don't have to shoot me," said the young lion. "I will be your rug and I will lie in front of your fireplace and I won't move a muscle and you can sit on me and toast all the marshmallows you want. I love marshmallows," said the young lion.""You what?" said the hunter."Well," said the young lion, "to be absolutely honest with you, I don't know if I "really love marshmallows or not because I have never tasted one, but I love most things and 1 love the "sound of the word marshmallow and if they taste like they sound -- mmmmmmmmmmmmm! -- I just know I will love them.""That Is ridiculous," said the hunter. "I have never heard of a lion giving up. I have never heard of a lion eating marshmallows. I am going to shoot you now and that is that." And he put his funny stick up to his shoulder."But "why?" said the young lion."Because I "am, that is why," said the hunter, and he pulled the trigger. And the stick went click."What was that click?" said the young lion. "Am I shot?"Well, as you can imagine, the hunter was very embarrassed about this and his face turned as red as his cap."I'm afraid I forgot to load my gun," he said. "I guess the joke is on me -- ha ha -- but if you will just excuse me for a moment, I will put a bullet in and we will go on from there.""No," said the young lion, "I don't think I will. I don't think I will let you put a bullet in. I don't think I will let you shoot me.
"You don't have to shoot me," says the young lion. "I will be your rug and I will lie in front of your fireplace and I won't move a muscle and you can sit on me and toast all the marshmallows you want. I love marshmallows."
But the hunter will not listen to reason, so what is there for a young lion to do? After eating up the hunter, Lafcadio takes the gun home and practices and practices until he becomes the world's greatest sharpshooter.
Now dressed in starched collars and fancy suits, and enjoying all the marshmallows he wants, Lafcadio is pampered and admired wherever he goes. But is a famous, successful, and admired lion a happy lion? Or is he a lion at all?
Told and drawn with wit and gusto, Shel Silverstein's modern fable speaks not only to children but to us all!
The witty, thought-provoking fable of a lion whose marksmanship makes him world famous, but who discovers that ?success ' is not to his liking.?A most amusing book, written in an easy, mildly mad style.' 'C.
Shel Silverstein's first children's book, Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back
—a whimsical tale of self-discovery and marshmallows—is turning fifty with a return to a vintage full-color cover.
Is a famous, successful, and admired lion a happy lion? Or is he a lion at all? Written and drawn with wit and gusto, Shel Silverstein's modern fable speaks not only to children but to us all!
First published in 1963, this book had rave reviews from the New York Times, Time magazine, and Publishers Weekly, as well as a starred review from Kirkus. Now celebrating its fiftieth anniversary, Lafcadio is being reissued with a full-color cover featuring vintage art from Shel Silverstein discovered in the archives.
Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back is the book that started Shel Silverstein's incomparable career as a bestselling children's book author and illustrator. He is also the creator of picture books such as A Giraffe and a Half, Who Wants a Cheap Rhinoceros?, The Missing Piece, The Missing Piece Meets the Big O, and the perennial favorite The Giving Tree and of classic poetry collections such as Where the Sidewalk Ends, A Light in the Attic, Falling Up, Every Thing On It, Don't Bump the Glump!, and Runny Babbit.
Supports the Common Core State Standards.
About the Author
"And now, children, your Uncle Shelby is going to tell you a story about a very strange lion -- in fact, the strangest lion I have ever met." So begins one of Shel Silverstein's very first children's books, Lafcadio, the Lion Who Shot Back.
It's funny and sad and has made readers laugh and think ever since it was published in 1963.
It was followed the next year by two other books. The first, The Giving Tree, is a moving story about the love of a tree for a boy. In an interview published in the Chicago Tribune in 1964, Shel talked about the difficult time he had trying to get the book published. "Everybody loved it, they were touched by it, they would read it and cry and say it was beautiful. But . . . one publisher said it was too short . . . ." Some thought it was too sad. Others felt that the book fell between adult and children's literature and wouldn't be popular. It took Shel four years before Ursula Nordstrom, the legendary editor at Harper Children's books, decided to publish it. She even let him keep the sad ending, Shel remembered, "because life, you know, has pretty sad endings. You don't have to laugh it up even if most of my stuff is humorous." Ultimately both adults and children embraced The Giving Tree.Shel returned to humor that same year with A Giraffe and a Half.
If you had a giraffe . . .
and he stretched another half . . .
you would have a giraffe and a half . . .
is how it starts and the laughter builds to the most riotous ending possible.
Shel's first collection of poems and drawings, Where the Sidewalk Ends, appeared in 1974. It opens with this invitation:
If you are a dreamer, come in.
If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar,
A hope-er, a pray-er, a magic bean buyer . . .
If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire,
For we have some flax golden tales to spin.
Shel invited children to dream and dare to try the impossible, from making a hippopotamus sandwich to drawing the longest nose in the world, to writing about eighteen flavors of ice cream and Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout who wouldn't take the garbage out.
With his second collection of poems and drawings, A Light in the Attic, in 1981, Shel asked his readers to turn the light on in their attics, to put something silly in the world, and not to be discouraged by the Whatifs.
Last night, while I lay thinking here,
Some whatifs crawled inside my ear
And pranced and partied all night long
And sang their same old Whatif song:
Whatif I'm dumb in school?
Whatif they've closed thw swimming pool?
Whatif I get beat up?
Whatif there's poison in my cup? . . .
Instead he urges readers to catch the moon or invite a dinosaur to dinner -- to have fun! School Library Journal not surprisingly called A Light in the Attic "exuberant, raucous, rollicking, tender, and whimsical." Children everywhere have agreed and Shel's books are now published in 30 different languages.
Yet Shel did not set out to write and draw for children. As he told Publishers Weekly in 1975, "When I was a kid . . . I would much rather have been a good baseball player or a hit with the girls. But I couldn't play ball, I couldn't dance. . . . So I started to draw and write. I was lucky that I didn't have anyone to copy, be impressed by. I had developed my own style."
He grew up in Chicago and created his first cartoons for the adult readers of Pacific Stars and Stripes, when he was a G.I. in Japan and Korea in the 1950s. He also learned to play the guitar and to write songs, including "A Boy Named Sue" for Johnny Cash and "The Cover of the Rolling Stone" sung by Dr. Hook. He performed his own songs on a number of albums and wrote others for friends, including his last in 1998, "Old Dogs," a two-volume set with country stars Waylon Jennings, Mel Tillis, Bobby Bare, and Jerry Reed. In 1984, Silverstein won a Grammy Award for Best Children's Album for Where the Sidewalk Ends -- "recited, sung and shouted" by the author. He was also an accomplished playwright, including the 1981 hit, "The Lady or the Tiger Show." He and David Mamet each wrote a play for Lincoln Center's production of "Oh, Hell," and they later co-wrote the 1988 film, "Things Change," which Mr. Mamet also directed. A frequent showcase for Shel's plays, the Ensemble Studio Theatre of New York produced Shel's "The Trio" in their 1998 Marathon of one-act plays.
Yet Shel Silverstein will perhaps always be best-loved for his extraordinary books. His latest collection, and his last book to be published before he sadly passed away in 1999 ... was Falling Up (1996). Like his other books, it is filled with unforgettable characters such as Screaming Millie who "screamed so loud it made her eyebrows steam." Then there are Danny O'Dare the dancing bear, the Human Balloon and Headphone Harold, and a host of others.
Shel was always a believer in letting his work do the talking for him. So come, wander through the Nose Garden, ride the little Hoarse, and let the magic of Shel Silverstein open your eyes, tickle your mind, and show you a new world.
Upside-down trees swingin' free,
Busses float and buildings dangle:
Now and then it's nice to see
The world -- from a different angle.