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Leo and the Lesser Lion

by Sandra Forrester

Published by Alfred A. Knopf, 2009
298 pages
ISBN: 978-0-375-85616-7

Ages 10 - 13

Twelve-year-old Bayliss and her big brother Leo were a team. He was the beloved instigator of countless pranks and schemes, she was his devoted follower. Now an accident has killed Leo and left Bayliss heartbroken. Struggling with a painful, slow recovery from a broken back, Bayliss grieves in a household where emotional pain is private. Set during the Depression, Sandra Forrester’s rewarding novel chronicles Bayliss’s physical recovery and her attempt to make sense of the tragedy that has changed the shape of her world. The gradual realization that she and Leo might have shut out their goody-two-shoes sister Kathleen with their closeness and conspiracies is one of many revelations. The story is full of surprises, including the many-faceted responses of the people around Bayliss when she announces her decision to pursue sainthood. (Perhaps it’s why she survived, she reasons, although she asks the nuns for information about “the ones who started out bad.”) The outcome is somewhat predictable when Bayliss’s family takes in two orphaned sisters, but the girls’ presence illuminates many things for Bayliss in a story populated with distinctive, believable, human characters, not the least of which is the strong-willed, spirited girl at its core. CCBC Categories: Fiction for Children  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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