‘Little Lion: A long Way Home’ by Saroo Brierley and illustrated by Bruce Whatley is a moving and powerful true story of survival. This picture book celebrates determination, overcoming adversity and achieving what seems impossible through the power of love, hope and family. 

Reasons to read this book (synopsis included at end):

Synopsis: ‘Little Lion: A Long Way Home’ is the true, extraordinary inspirational story of Saroo Brierley, a man with unwavering determination driven by the love for his family. Saroo’s story begins in India where he lived with his mother, eldest brother Guduu, other brother Kallu and baby sister Shekila in a small impoverished village in India in single room house with a mud, straw and cow dung floor. They were forced to beg for food, yet despite their impoverished living conditions and hand to mouth existence, they took care of each other and were happy.

One evening Saroo convinced his older brother Guduu to allow him to join him while he tried to earn some money or food working at the railway station. Guduu expressed his concern that this was not a good idea as he felt Saroo was too small (he was only five years old), but Guduu soon relented. That night was exhausting for Saroo, Guduu instructed him to stay on the platform while he did a few things, promising to return when he had finished his work. As the night grew later, Saroo felt more and more alone. He spotted a train with a carriage door open. Saroo boarded the train which soon left the station while Saroo was sleeping. When he woke up he quickly realised the landscape he could see out of the windows was different and the train was moving through more heavily populated towns. Saroo ended up disembarking at Calcutta station where despite his pleas for help he was ignored. Tragically, a child alone at the Calcutta train station was all too common and didn’t warrant anyone’s attention or need for concern.

Far from home, Saroo lived on the streets, a hostile environment with danger his main companion. One evening when scavenging for food, a young man tried to help Saroo and offered to take him to the police station so that they could help him reunite with his family. Saroo had difficulty communicating the name of the place where he lived, his words seemed to fall on deaf ears as what he was saying meant nothing to the police officer. Saroo was then taken to an orphanage. The orphanage was unable to locate his family or had no leads about this missing boy. After four weeks at the orphanage Saroo was told that a family has been found for him…in Tasmania, Australia.

His new parents were devoted and loved him very much. While growing up in Tasmania Saroo never gave up on returning home and thought about his family daily. It wasn’t until Saroo finished university that he became aware of Google Earth. For five years, Saroo relentlessly studied railway lines on Google Earth in the hope of recognising his home. One evening, there on his computer he spotted the water tower, a landmark he clearly remembered and from there was able to trace the train line to his village, his home town Ganesh Talai (which he had been mispronouncing as he recalled the word from how he heard it when he was five). After twenty five years, Saroo finally arrived home. This reunion with his family was filled with joy and tears, tears of happiness and tears of loss.

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