So Much The Better is a parable of emotional, spiritual and social growth that is geared for children. Though child-oriented, the writing is not overly simplistic, and could also be enjoyed by fantasy-appreciating older children and adults.
The journeying aspect and learning from those met along the path does remind one of Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress, particularly because portions of scripture are sprinkled throughout in the advice given to the main character, a young lion cub, Ari.
Separated from his pride by a black wind, Ari is lost and in despair. A wise eagle, Eliezer, greets him with the admonition to “Fear not and be of good cheer.”
Eliezer obviously represents all that is good and rightly encourages Ari to not lose faith and to search for wisdom. However the message to “look within your heart” and “follow your heart” were jarring, and in conflict with the scriptural tidbits.
Ari’s conflicts, friendships, and lessons learned, help him develop into a future leader for his pride. Disappointingly, there was no resolution to his mother’s disappearance, and the story culmination to suddenly join with the enemies and become one was unrealistic. The resolution came about due to the change of the leopard leader, and the illustrations of the young and innocent (formerly enemy) lion and leopard cubs playing together seemed likely meant to invoke a glimpse of the heavenly future when the “lion shall lay down with the lamb.”
I could have bought into a single lion and leopard alliance with the potential of leading to more, but when two leaders decide the fate of their followers, even in the animal kingdom, no matter how worthy their goals, I am not comfortable with the teaching.
That said, it is more fantasy than allegory, and as such it would be the ultimate happy ending.
In response to encouraging feedback on the message of this book, the author created a website and social media links and a free Curriculum Companion of 21 lessons on character building to help children become their best selves and inspire them to be great leaders. These resources can be accessed at MeganMean’sAuthor
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