Willoughby and the Lion
by Greg Foley
Young Willoughby is unhappy with his new house. It’s too small and in the middle of nowhere. His luck seems to change one day when he spots a golden lion sitting on a rock outside his house. The mysterious lion offers Willoughby ten wishes. There’s a catch, however: if one of these wishes isn’t the most wonderful wish, the lion would never be able to leave the rock. When Willoughby, unsurprisingly, wishes for a new house, a grand golden palace replaces the small cabin that he was so unhappy with. Each day brings a new wish from Willoughby, including a roller coaster and x-ray glasses. Unfortunately, while these wishes bring much excitement to Willoughby, the lion grows sad as none of them are the most wonderful thing of all. Will Willoughby ever make the wish that the lion needs him to make?
This is a lovely story that I hope will teach my readers that the most wonderful thing of does not have to be the biggest, most expensive, most beautiful thing. The most wonderful thing can be a simple act of kindness and friendship. The illustrations of this book were simple yet impactful – black drawings on white background, with metallic gold for the lion and the various items that Willoughby wished for.
This will make for an interesting discussion with my younger readers. Prior to reading, I’ll ask them to share what they would wish for if a magical lion offered them ten wishes. As we get further in, at the point where the lion is sad that Willoughby has not wished for the most wonderful thing, I’ll ask them to guess what they thing the most wonderful wish is. After reading, we can discuss Willoughby’s wishes and see if any of them would change the wishes they suggested before we read the story.