Posted by: saxtonblittlea | April 7, 2009

Why do they want to borrow that?

One advantage in being the person responsible for processing Interlibrary Loan requests for our library is that I get a heads up on what’s hot. Recently I’ve had lots of requests from area libraries to borrow Still Alice by Lisa Genova. Word of mouth selling has done its job and its on everyone’s must read list. If you want to know what it’s about I wrote about it on our Saxton Reads! blog on February 15th (

Another recent phenomenon and one that had us a bit perplexed, is a slew of requests for a book, A Lion Called Christian, first published in 1971. One request didn’t seem odd. After all, I had recently read another oldie The Goose from Scarsdale, 1974 and after talking about it, it realized a new life. Then the second, the third, the fourth requests came pouring in. The staff scratched their heads; none of us knew why the book was suddenly so popular. However, we are librarians so we immediately did some research and this is what we found. Seems there’s a clip on Youtube showing a heart endearing reunion of Christian, the Lion and the two men, Ace Bourke and John Rendall, who raised him from a cub.

Christian’s Story as told on the Born Free Foundation Webpage

“In 1969 a young Australian, John Rendall and his friend Ace Bourke, bought a small lion cub from Harrods pet department, which was then legal. ‘Christian’ was kept in the basement of a furniture shop on the Kings Road in Chelsea, the heart of the swinging sixties. Loved by all, the affectionate cub ate in a local restaurant, played in a nearby graveyard, but was growing fast…

A chance encounter with Bill Travers and Virginia McKenna led to a new life for Christian. He came to live in an enclosure and slept in a caravan at their Surrey home. Then in 1971 he was flown to Kenya, his ancestral home, and returned to the wild by lion-man George Adamson. Almost a year later in 1972, John and Ace returned to Kora in Kenya and it is their reunion with Christian at this time that is shown in the clip.

It was an emotional reunion: “He ran towards us, threw himself onto us, knocked us over and hugged us, with his paws on our shoulders.” ”

The Youtube reunion clip has made Christian quite the celebrity. The book “A Lion Called Christian” has been fully revised and updated, telling Christian’s remarkable story in words as well as stunning photographs. There have been stories in the New York Times, People Weekly Magazine, USA Today, and all the major news networks.

Our 1971 version has made its way back home and is currently in my TBR pile. The revised edition should be on our shelves soon. Reserve either copy by visiting our online catalog.

A lion called Christian [by] Anthony Bourke and John Rendall. c.1971

Lion Called Christian: The True Story of the Remarkable Bond Between Two Friends and a Lion – Anthony Burke and John Randall c.2009

If neither are available you can always read The Goose from Scarsdale / by Clive Howard

If the links don’t work visit our blog at


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