Title: Listening for Lions
Author: Gloria Whelan
Major Themes: 1920s, Africa, England, Missionaries, Medical Missions
Synopsis: After Rachel’s parents die on the mission field in Africa from Spanish Influenza, Rachel is sent to England by scheming neighbors as their daughter, to try to influence an old man to do what they want him to.
Even though the main character is a girl, my boys loved Listening for Lions. Thirteen-year-old Rachel has spent all her life with her parents at a small mission hospital in Kenya, but when Spanish Influenza sweeps through the local tribes after World War I, her life is turned upside down in the blink of an eye. In one day, both her parents and Valerie, the only other white girl in the area, who is very near Rachel’s age and has the same red hair as Rachel, all die. Valerie’s parents take Rachel into their home and pretend that Rachel died, then send Rachel to England as Valerie, to live with Valerie’s grandfather. Rachel is instructed to influence the old man to forgive his son and daughter-in-law and allow them to come back to England—and give them his property!
Rachel’s conscience bothers her constantly, but she cannot figure out how to confess her deceitfulness—until Valerie’s parents come to England and take Rachel to live with them in London! Away from the country estate she has come to love, she must make a decision that may put her in prison.
Listening for Lions is quite an unusual story, but as well-written as most of the other books I’ve read by Gloria Whelan. It doesn’t have as strong a plot as a lot of novels, but does pull you in pretty quickly.
Read Aloud—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 13
Reading Independently—Ages 10 – 12, 12 – 15