A Lion’s Mane is picture book written by Navjot Kaur, illustrated by Jaspreet Sandhu and published by Saffron Press (Canada).

Favorite quotes:
“I have a lion’s mane and I’m different, just like you.
“Do you know that you can actually lionize someone?”

As soon as I opened A Lion’s Mane I understood why it got nominated for the Cybils Awards: the book has heart and is really well produced. I couldn’t help myself, the illustrations transported me back to my kindergarten and elementary years, with colors as vibrant as the ones I used to see the world through. Kuddos to illustrator Jaspreet Sandhu for the playfulness she instilled in her work. They are a delight to look at and, in my opinion, they suit perfectly the narrator ‘s youth and innocence.

I like the fact that Sikh children get to see themselves on the book cover, that kids unfamiliar with the Sikh culture have their curiosity picked as soon as they look at this boy standing in front of a mirror, his hands raised. I want to ask the young audience, “What do you think he is doing?”

I think it would be the beginning of a wonderful conversation.

Another interesting aspect of a Lion’s Mane is its interactive platform, served by the way text and illustrations play with each other. Indeed, at some point the narrator repeatedly asks the reader and the audience if they can see what “lion” means, illustrated in a specific cultural context. The answer is partially in the pose that a character strikes, as well as the writing in the red turban; it encourages the children to read on their own, thus becoming participants of the story.

I learned about a Sikh martial art called Gatka! I didn’t know it existed, I YouTubed it and my jaw dropped. It’s scary great. *Don’t let your kids watch the video!*

The book empowers the reader by its cultural knowledge. It reminds that being different is, in fact, normal, even if it means being the only kid in the classroom wearing a turban on your head. The reader gets to learn words in Swahili, Sikh, Sanskrit… We learn what the lion’s mane means in the Native Indian Ohi tribe, what it meant in medieval times. There would be more to say, notably about great female figures of our century, but I don’t want to spoil your reading experience.

To summarize regarding the review, A Lion’s Mane is a wonderful, meaningful picture book ~ yet another picture book that stole my heart. I have NO doubts children would grab it and read it over and over (I know I did) if displayed in libraries and bookstores.

Other facts you might be pleased to know:
o A Lion’s Mane is written on 100% recycled and chlorine-free paper! 625 trees will be planted for its first edition.
o Part of the book’s proceeds goes to SEVA Canada‘s work to restore sight and prevent blindness in children.
o If you ever looked for a book dealing with bully-ism, this would do wonders in the classroom. The topic is dealt with such a positive and genuine attitude!
o A Lion’s Mane received the 2010 Skipping Stones Honor Award, as a multicultural and international awareness book.
o Age range: 5 to 10 years old.

About the author:
Navjot Kaur is a Toronto-based elementary teacher of Sikh-Punjabi heritage, who grew up in England. A lion’s Mane is her first book.

To purchase a Lion’s Mane and for more information, please check the following links:
o Saffron Press’ Website
o A Lion’s Mane on Facebook

A Lion’s Mane will be part of something special on Multiculturalism Rocks! soon. 🙂

Disclosure: I received the book from the author.
Edited 6/16/2010

13 thoughts on “Picture Book Review: A LION’S MANE, by Navjot Kaur; illustrated by Jaspreet Sandhu

  1. Wow sounds great!!! I don’t understand why it seems to be so hard for people to read books featuring people of other races, cultures etc. It is so much fun to learn something new. I will be on the lookout for this one to share with my kids.


    1. Hi Jeannine, the book is available in a few places in Canada. I hope it gets more known in the U.S., too. It’s really great.


  2. I couldn’t help it. I Youtubed Gatka. Great dangerous stuff.

    The colors in the illustrations are eye-grabbing. I haven’t read the book yet, but I’m glad it carries so many educational and multicultural messages.


  3. Thank you for your comments.

    Like many other martial arts, Gatka was created to help connect the mind, body and spirit. It is a discipline which shapes character and students today feel it achieves a holistic balance, despite living in a hectic and chaotic world. I know I could often do with some of that:)


  4. I have a bunch of Top 10: posts on multiculturalism on my blog: http:PragmaticMom.com

    Top 10: Native American Children’s Books (http://www.pragmaticmom.com/?p=7803)

    Top 10: Korean American Children’s books (http://www.pragmaticmom.com/?p=4264)

    I also have Top 10: list for Chinese American Children’s Books, Top 10: Japanese American Children’s Books, Top 10: African American Picture Books and more.

    Pragmatic Mom
    Type A Parenting for the Modern World

    I blog on children’s lit, education and parenting.


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