In The Lion

In The Lion, front cover
[click to download high-res cover]

Written & illustrated by James Foley.
Published by Walker Books Australia
Hardback August 2012, ISBN: 9781921720321
Paperback October 2014, ISBN: 9781922077134

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In The Lion

In the city there’s a zoo. In the zoo there’s a lion.
And in the lion, there’s…

So begins In The Lion, a darkly funny picture book for younger readers. A young boy visits the zoo with his family, only to find an enormous lion is swallowing everything and everyone it can. Only the boy has the courage to stand his ground and stop the lion.



  • Selection, International Youth Library’s 2013 White Raven list
  • Notable Book, 2013 Children’s Book Council of Australia Picture Book of the Year Award
  • Shortlist, Western Australian Young Readers’ Book Awards 2014 (Picture Book category)

Book Trailer


“The scary cover of this darkly funny picture book says it all: there is a ferocious lion in the zoo and he’s hungrily gobbling up everything and everyone who comes within his range …
Written in the tradition of cumulative tales, James Foley’s second picture book combines a short, joyfully repetitive text with colourful, comical illustrations. The detailed drawings occasionally add their own little episodes to the main tale and more often than not offer readers an unexpected twist to the story.” – White Ravens Selection 2013, International Youth Library

“The format of the text is delightfully repetitive… in true children’s picture story book tradition it is up to the protagonist Richard to save the day! The illustrations are colourful and there is action within for the reader to giggle over. A fun story.” – Sharon Greenaway, Magpies Magazine

“…in the lion there’s… a fun adventure to be had! It’s full of colourful and clever illustrations, and repetitive text that will engage and delight young children.” – Scoop Magazine

“Foley is a new voice in picture-book creation… charmingly simple rhythmic text… a very promising debut” – Perth Child Magazine

“Author/illustrator James Foley’s new picture book follows the familiar pattern of cumulative storytelling much loved by children and parents alike. With vibrant cartoonish illustrations and a repetitive text whose tension builds and builds until young readers will be ready to pop right along with the titular beast, In the Lion is sure to delight.” – WritingWA

“This is one of our most popular books and is being read all the time at school.” – BookTrailers4KidsAndYA

In the Lion is a delightfully humorous picture book. The text is cumulative, encouraging youngsters to join in and to predict. The illustrations, drawn in graphite and coloured digitally, are full of life and colour. The massive lion manages to be both cute and ferocious at the same time, and the human characters are diverse. The little boy hero is delightful.This is Foley’s debut as author/illustrator and will delight.” – Sally Murphy, Aussie Reviews

In the Lion is a hilarious picture book… children will be laughing out loud. If there was an award for the best picture book cover it would have to go to In the Lion. The story works well as a read-aloud, but is even better for one-on-one sharing so that you can make the most of the illustrations. James Foley is a very talented author and illustrator and I’ll look forward to reading more of his picture books.” – Picture Book Nook

“There’s lots of humour in the book, and so many opportunities for discussion. I predict it’s a children’s picture book that kids will want to listen to again and again. End papers, those papers immediately inside the front and back covers of a book, are always interesting. But some illustrators make them particularly so… Foley’s illustrations, created with graphite drawings and digitally coloured, are a delight. His characters are beautifully individual and portray so many interesting expressions as subtext to the story. Children will enjoy discovering the visual details… I have previously reviewed The Last Viking which Foley illustrated. I’m just as impressed with In the Lion. I love it, and recommend it to other lovers of excellent children’s picture books, or anyone who just wants a fun story to share with kids.” – Susan Stephenson, The Book Chook


Teachers’ Notes
Download (pdf)

In The Lion handoutHandout
Here’s a handout I’ve been using as an activity with class groups. I ask the students to come up with the craziest possible things the lion might have eaten. Suggestions have included Yoda from Star Wars, a toilet, a school bus, an elephant that shoots rocks from its trunk, poison, bombs, a entire football oval with a match being played, the sun, the world, the Eiffel Tower, and another lion which also has another lion inside it, etc etc.
Download for non-commercial, educational purposes only.


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