The Girl Who Saw Lions

I no longer knew where I was walking to or from, or why. I just wanted to sleep. And then the moon glided out from behind a tree and I saw the lions, and they saw me.


The Girl Who Saw Lions is actually the story of two girls. One lives in Tanzania, the orphaned child of a family stricken with HIV/Aids. When her uncle sends her to England her grandmother thinks she is going to a better life, but Uncle Thomas is involved in child trafficking and Abela faces a bleak future as an illegal immigrant. Her mother’s dying words to her had been “Be strong, my Abela, be strong,” and this inspires her with the courage to survive.

The other girl is Rosa, who lives in Sheffield in a one-parent family. She and her mother do everything together, including learning to skate at IceSheffield. Rosa can’t imagine anything changing in her life, until one day her mother tells her she is considering adoption. Rosa is devastated. “What if I had said to her, ‘I’m thinking of adopting another mother?’”

Ultimately, The Girl Who Saw Lions is a story of love, understanding and hope, as both girls strive to overcome their childhood sorrows.

Imbyai Parsalau

My inspiration for the book came from a visit I made to Tanzania some years ago. I fell in love with the landscape, the colours, the people, the food, the animals. I knew I wanted to write about it. I was encouraged by two VSO workers to tackle the subject of HIV/Aids in Africa. I have also been interested in the subject of adoption for many years, having been a social worker in a family placement unit in Leicestershire at the beginning of my working life. I have written about adoption (The Snake-stone) and orphans (Street Child) before, and know it is a sensitive and delicate subject to write about, but in The Girl Who Saw Lions I have been inspired by a different landscape to research and write an even more ambitious novel. I’m indebted to the many people who talked to me along the way.

The publishers have devised an extensive and very useful discussion programme for use in schools and reading groups. Here it is:

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