A must read for all
The book cover of a lion baring its teeth and the title of the book is powerful – ‘the scream’ Robbie explains it was inspired by Edward Munch’s famous painting by the same name. She says she used it in the title because it was how she felt on seeing a blood-red sky. I remember feeling the same when a friend of mine shared a picture of the sunset sky during her recent trip to Kenya.
Lion Scream is a book of poems and prose written on the wildlife in South Africa to create awareness about poaching and the impact of climate change on the natural habitat in S. Africa. Robbie Cheadle handles this crucial and relevant subject on the environment deftly by writing poems that are bound to tug the heart, enlighten and sensitize the reader towards the issue.
The poems are written in the double ennead form. Robbie explains that a double ennead is a form of syllabic poetry. Each stanza has 5 lines and 33 syllables. The poems are easy to understand for non-poets and non-readers as well. The addition of pictures and links to videos taken by the author makes it a light and entertaining read.
To fight for a cause, you need to believe in it, understand and feel for the oppressed party or the victim, which in this case is the declining flora and fauna of S.Africa. By providing a peek into their world and giving them a voice through her poems, Robbie Cheadle helps the reader see them in a new light. As I read the book, I felt it would be perfect if it were introduced to students in Middle school; creating awareness at an early age may be our only way to save the future. After all, the future belongs to the children of today.
I’m sharing a few poems and excerpts from the book to give you an idea of what I’m talking about. Under the Section on Rhinos, Robbie shares the news article on a rhino that was found crying after being attacked by poachers for its horn; the rhino’s skull was fractured, and it was left bleeding. It pained me when I read it.
‘Vacancies’ is a satirical poem highlighting the issue of poaching. One of the verses in the poem, ‘Vacancies’, reads-
Attention all rhinos
We have vacancies
Your presence is necessary to complete
The “Big Five” offering
Our clients demand
No longer apply
Black or white, adult or child, we want you all
Good living conditions
The poem, ‘Listen to me, Mom,’ on the other hand is written in a lighter vein There’s a photograph of a baby rhino nudging a parent rhino.
“If you don’t answer me
I’ll back into you
Can you feel it, Mom, I’m bumping into you?
I’m not going to stop
Until you answer
‘Hiding‘ is a cute poem of a single stanza. It brings a smile to my lips every time I read it, and see the picture of an an elephant’s head peeping out; the rest of its body is behind a bush.
Noone will see me
If I hide behind this bush
I’ll just take a peek
Oh, the people are still there
I’m sure they won’t notice me
In the section on Elephants, Robbie says, “According to an IUCN article dated 25 March 2021, the African forest elephant population has declined by more than 86% over a period of 31 years.” These figures call for immediate action. While efforts have been taken to protect wildlife, it’s not enough. Most of us know it’s happening but we have no idea how grave the issue is, as we are not impacted by it.
There is a section on well-known creatures like lions, tigers, cheetahs, leopards, vultures and the not-so-popular ones that inhabit the earth, like dragonflies, dung beetles, spiders, buffaloes, wildebeests, hyenas, and many others.
Here’s a stanza from the poem, ‘Lion Lust’
They will stay together
For twenty-four hours
Mating every twenty to thirty minutes
Despite his high demands
She lovingly purrs
From the poem, ‘Colours of Africa’. I loved the imagery in this poem.
Flying hooves pound the earth
Eyes white with terror
Stampeding herd raises clouds of copper dust
Attack swift and deadly
Crimson red explodes
From the poem, ‘Nature’s trick‘ on spotted hyenas. I had no idea about this prior to reading Robbie’s book.
Birthing is difficult
My babies – stillborn
After suffocating in my birth canal
Only the strong survive
To continue my line
In the section on Hyenas, she says, “Hyenas are scavengers, and they clean up a large amount of dead matter, which makes them important to the health of the ecosystem.” And in this manner, Robbie shares facts in a way that is easy to remember.
From the poem, ‘Poor Mr Weaver’
A row of woven nests
All in shades of green
Carefully constructed by a hopeful male
Will it meet his girlfriend’s
In the section on Sunflowers, she explains, “Sunflowers can absorb high concentrations of radioactive isotopes and isolate them in their stems and leaves. In a process called phytoremediation, the use of plants to clear toxins from the environment, sunflowers were planted at Chernobyl to help cleanse the environment.”
I cannot divulge more because it wouldn’t be fair to the author but I hope you got the gist.
Who is the book for?
I learned a lot from this book, and I hope it reaches the right readers- those with impressionable minds and those who can make a difference. This book would make a wonderful gift for children aged 8 to 13 and those fascinated by the animal kingdom. It’s the kind of book that should find a place in school libraries and is a fun way to teach poetry and zoology together and awaken curious minds.
What the author says about the book?
The book is currently available on kindle and can be bought by clicking here. You can read more about the book on the author’s website.
I hope you enjoyed reading the review and hope this well-researched book finds its readers.
Until next time,
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