Book Reviews

Jason Louis Has A Timely Message for Kids in “The Hawaiian Lion-Thunder from the Mountain Top”


Alexandria, VA – Review: The Hawaiian Lion–Thunder from the Mountain Top

Author: Jason Louis
Publisher: Mascot Kids/ Amplify Publishing

Reviewed by: Ralph Peluso, Literary Editor

Zebra Rating: 5 Stripes

Jason Louis will tell you he is a storyteller. And he is. But through his works, he tells more than tall tales. Louis communicates valuable and timely messages to children with his words and animation. “Storytelling is in my blood. As a child, being an avid reader and listening to the family storytellers served as my inspiration. And I always had a story to tell.”

In his recent work, The Hawaiian Lion, Louis politely takes on critical issues children face in today’s world. These are unlike the issues grade school children faced in the 50s, 60s, and 70s. Diversity and inclusion are front and center. Jason uses eight unique animals of different sizes, shapes, and attributes to emphasize this point.

His style will captivate the young reader. Once immersed in the story, children learn that although we are not all the same, we each have different but valuable attributes. There is strength in numbers, and working together leads to better outcomes.

On the Hawaiian island of Kiwahu, daily life is peaceful and bucolic. Three times a day, they travel to the fruit patch to fetch fruit. One day, their usual routine takes an unusual turn. From a nearby mountain, an intimidating voice, sounding like a hungry lion, threatens to come down and eat them if they do not bring him food. The animals are afraid and fret over what to do.

Terrified at the prospect of the lion coming down the mountain, Elli, the village chief, devises a plan. She sends different animals up the mountain to confront the lion. Her plan does not work, as each animal that goes up the mountain does not return. Deciding it is better if they work together, Elli instructs the remaining animals that they must go up the mountain together to confront the lion.

They are in a battle for survival. There are only two possible outcomes: get eaten by a hungry lion or satisfy the lion’s appetite with the fruit they’ve gathered. Through this, they must overcome their fears and stand up to the “bully.” If they can reach a common understanding, the outcome will be better.

Louis delivers many messages in this work, not only through his words but also with the vibrant illustrations. This makes it easier to highlight cultural differences. I asked Jason for the key lessons a child gains from his book. He responded, “Face your fears. Don’t run away from something that might scare you. Learn to work through the issues and eventually conquer the fear. Don’t judge a book by its cover. Things aren’t always what you perceive them to be.

“Who would have thought that what seemed like a menacing lion was not menacing at all? He was not interested in eating the other animals. Always have a plan. Test your plan to make sure it is sound. Things may not always go according to the plan, but if it’s a good plan, you will eventually succeed. Generally, when working with a group, you can achieve more than you can individually. ‘Many hands make light work.’ If you don’t succeed the first time, try and try again.”

Jason Louis grew up on the Caribbean Island of St. Lucia. As a youth, he developed a passion for buildings, art, and writing, which led him to pursue architecture, earning a bachelor’s and two master’s degrees in architecture. Louis worked in construction management and lived in three countries before settling in the US nearly 20 years ago.

Through the years, he developed a fascination and appreciation for the diversity of the world’s cultures, which inspired his four-book series, Marco’s Travels. Jason Louis lives with his wife and two children in Alexandria, Virginia. He enjoys life in the DC Metro area and plans to continue writing stories and creating characters with cultural and exotic themes for children.

The Hawaiian Lion is a terrific introduction for children to learn and appreciate the diversity of people and cultures and experience success through team work. A solid multicultural 5 Zebra stripes.

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