The Lion Queen: Rasila Vadher, the First Woman Guardian of the Last Asiatic Lions

Cameron. Oct. 2023. 40p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781951836849.
K-Gr 2–Rasila Vadher wants to work at the Gir National Park in Gujarat, India, when she grows up, taking care of the endangered Asiatic lions who live there. But women aren’t hired at the forest because “handling wild animals is a man’s job.” When Vadher passes all the required tests, she is given a desk job. She bides her time until an opportunity arises to prove herself in the forest by saving a lioness and her cubs. Soon, she’s rescuing all types of animals and helping the people who are impacted by them, as well as training more women to join her in guarding the forest. Vadher’s story is presented in first-person verse. The poetic imagery of the text is paired with lush illustrations rich with metaphor. The lions she loves serve as a visual and thematic metaphor for her character. When she is ignored and diminished, roars and rumbles grow within her. As she pushes against boundaries and speeds through the forest on her motorbike, her braided hair flies out behind her, mimicking the lions’ tails streaming behind them as they prowl across the pages. A note after the story provides more information about Gir National Park and its Lion Queens, Vadher’s life, and the Asiatic lions she protects.
VERDICT This story of a woman bold enough to run with lions, and break barriers in the process, will appeal to animal lovers and social crusaders. Recommended for general purchase.

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