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Publisher's Summary

Many centuries ago in the wilds of Africa, a startling and mystical friendship developed between a lion and a saint. St. Gerasim served the lion by removing a thorn from its paw, and in turn, the lion served St. Gerasim and his monastery for the rest of his life.

This small gem of a story shows us this extraordinary friendship through the eyes of the lion, and of a baboon he befriends along the way, allowing us to participate in the lion's transformation - through contact with holiness - from an undifferentiated dumb beast to a particular lion with his own name and destiny.

The Lion and the Saint may be enjoyed by good listeners, from preteen to adult.

©2020 Laura E. Wolfe (P)2020 Laura E. Wolfe

What listeners say about The Lion and the Saint

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  • Overall
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Kipling-esque Saint Tale

The Lion and the Saint is a sweet little book about St. Gerasim. It is a tale reminiscent of Rudyard Kipling stories where animals are the story tellers and the rules of nature dominate. This story begins with anecdotes of pride life and the wild rhythms of the savannah. It chronicles the partnership that develops between a strong, prideful lion and a timid but loyal baboon. It continues with the animal pair becoming members and friends of a monastic community far from their native environment. It ends with the lion and the baboon finding peace in their true callings as parts of the divinely-created world. At it’s essence, though, it is a lesson on how when another person truly sees you with love, it sparks the ultimate journey - to seek and become ones own unique & essential self.

Some of the vocabulary and writing style may be a little advanced for some preteens, but it is an appealing narrative for adults and older children alike. Author Laura E. Wolfe is a clear, slow narrator who’s tone sets an appropriate fable-like mood.

The Lion and the Saint is a fun twist on a classic saint tale of a godly person overcoming the natural barriers between humanity and the animal world and the moral of the story is one so applicable to our day and age - becoming your true self is a journey well-worth the hardship. It is truly “good news meant for all creatures great and small.”

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A delightful listen

What a piece of art. I had no expectations when beginning the audio book version, and I quickly became immersed in the story. As audiobook narrator, the author does a superb job and brings life to the characters. The author created something wonderful. The story itself is multilayered in a way that my entire family could enjoy it and connect with different aspects depending on age. My 4 and 6 year olds liked hearing about the Lion in particular. My 8 and 10 year olds were able to understand more of the surface layer spirituality and faith aspects. I am still processing the story for myself and hope to relisten soon as some of the faith elements struck me much deeper than I expected. It isn't that the book is complex, but it resonates in me in such a way that I think I could use a second listen.

The writing itself flows beautifully and is wonderfully rich with rhythm and vocabulary. The pacing is just right in order to move story along while allowing for contemplation.

I think this is a book that most people, of all ages, would enjoy and benefit from, and some readers/listeners may be greatly encouraged in their life journey.

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Creative story and perspective

I was excited to listen to this book since my children love the story of St. Gerasimos of the Jordan. Told from the perspective of the lion, it is creative and fun to listen to. The author uses rich and descriptive language in her story, and varies her voice in the narration so you can easily tell which character is speaking. However, there was quite a bit of vocabulary that was beyond the comprehension of early elementary aged children, so it might be better suited to older elementary aged and up from a comprehension standpoint. There were also a few things that bothered me just from a personal preference. The one is that the author uses the translation of the name Gerasim, which is perfectly acceptable, but I prefer the spelling/pronunciation of Gerasimos. Also, although the author narrates very well, the voices she gives to the characters isn't the way I would have done it in my head. I think for me personally, it is a story I would enjoy better reading myself. But overall, an enjoyable listen!

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An excellent story, well narrated

This story begins with a lion living a lions life, told from the lion's point of view in lyrical prose. We were the gleaming lion's mane, smell the scents be smells and feel the vibration of his roar through the gorgeous imagery of this story. We also observe him through his unusual baboon companion, who teaches hims how to speak. Together they meet St. Gerasim, and the rest of the story, while known to history, is deftly told through their eyes. Laura Wolfe makes an excellent narrator, modulating her voice in such a way that we always know when it is the lion speaking, and when it is the baboon. I listened to this book with my children and we all enjoyed the story and the narration. My 5-year-old who loves animals enjoyed hearing a story from their point of view, and my older two enjoyed learning the story of a saint in this way.

While the story of the lion follows closely to the story we know about St. Gerasim, some of the father's names at the monastery are drawn from the Egyptian desert fathers (Abba Poemen, Abba Macarius, Abba Moses), but would have pre dated Gerasim and lived in Scetis, not near the Jordan. I explained to my children that the author might have drawn upon the Desert Fathers to name the other monks.

It is known that St. Gerasim attended the Council of Chalcedon and this is mentioned in the story, but as a member of a Non-Chalcedonian Orthodox Church I appreciated the author not going into great detail about what happened there. The saint's impressions of what happened could easily have been the impression of any saintly person on either side of the Caledonian controversy.

Overall this is a beautifully written and unique way to tell the story of this saint and his unusual relationship with a lion. I look forward to more writing from this author.

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A book the whole family can enjoy!

This audiobook was such a wonderful one to listen to. We received a copy of the audiobook in exchange for an honest review, and we feel very fortunate because it was so fun. My 9 year old, 6 year old, and I listened together to the first chapter, chuckled at the line, “Besides, I could always eat her later,” and my 9 year old proceeded to finish listening to the entire book that day. I did as well. It was a pleasure to listen to the author read the tale, and there was no difficulty in distinguishing characters as she read. It is a tale the whole family will enjoy together again and again.

In this book, the position of narrator passes back and forth between the lion (who becomes Jordanes) and the baboon (Astennu). Their relationship with one another and with all creation changes and becomes something more beautiful throughout their life together, especially after they meet St. Gerasim. Through their time together, we learn more of what it means to be “particular” (not in the sense of being choosy, but of being chosen and called by name).

I appreciated the tale of becoming, and of the importance of looking beyond what we expect to see what might be. My child noticed that the monks in the tale did not quite believe St. Gerasim, and that their trust of Jordanes took time. He stated, “They should have listened to him,” and it offered us the opportunity to talk about trust and obedience. We observed together that Jordanes was able to become something more than what was expected of him as a lion, and how service and obedience allowed him to maintain that. We also observed that in the closest of relationships, there is always the element of danger as well (in the case of lion and baboon and man, there is the opportunity of one being eaten by another, but in our every day relationships, there are also dangers to overcome).

In regards to being “particular,” this theme resonated throughout the book as we heard about a particular man/saint who inspires others to become particular as well. Perhaps we, too, can become more than what we are.