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How to Hide a Lion


Helen Stephens
Alison Green Books
Age 3-7

A lion goes into town to buy a hat, but unfortunately people are not too pleased to see him and chase him away. He meets a little girl called Iris who tries to hide him from her parents but this proves rather tricky. Iris’s parents think all lions eat people, but Iris knows this lion is kind. When he is discovered, the lion runs away, finding another hiding place in the town square. From there he spots two burglars stealing the mayor’s candlesticks. The lion stops the burglars and so becomes a local hero showing he is indeed a kind lion. He is rewarded for his actions with – a hat!

A warm and appealing story about kindness and not jumping to conclusions too quickly with attractive and detailed illustrations which give lots to talk about together.


Share the story

Talk about the cover
Look at the cover together. What can you tell about the characters and how they are feeling? Read the title together and talk about hiding a lion. Would it be hard or easy? What places would you choose?

Read aloud
Read the story aloud, pausing when your child wants to talk about what is happening or about the pictures.

Join in
Encourage children to join in when you re read the story, for example with Iris’s words or the parts about hiding the lion, leaving gaps so children can finish sentences (he was too…. ‘big’). Roaring like a lion would be fun too.

Talk about the story
Share the parts of the story you each liked best.

How do the townspeople feel when they see the lion for the first time? Make faces together, just like the people in the story.

How do the townspeople feel about the lion at the end of the story?

Did you spot the book Iris reads to the lion The Tiger who came to Tea? Perhaps you could share that book too if you have a copy or you could watch the animation on our Tiger who came to Tea activity page.

Watch the story

Fox Creek Municipal Library

Picturebook maker Helen Stephens talks about the inspiration for How to Hide a Lion:

'How to Hide a Lion started when I moved from London to the windy seaside town of Berwick-upon-Tweed in Northumberland. Berwick has beautiful grey stone buildings, and we have these silvery sea mists that drift in from the sea and fill the town. One day an image popped into my head. It was of a bright yellow lion wandering into this silvery grey town, and the image just wouldn’t go away.'

'I decided there might be a book idea in this, so I went to Edinburgh Zoo to draw the lions. But every time I sat down to draw, the lions went to sleep just out of sight: either behind a bush, or in their enclosure. I became convinced they were hiding. And that’s where the idea of a hiding lion came from, it all started there really.'
'I spent a very long time wondering where the lion came from, and why he was arriving in town. My editor, Alison Green, and I brainstormed all sorts of ideas. None of them seemed right. Then one of us arrived at ‘hat’. He arrived in town to buy a hat, it seemed deliciously simple; we didn’t need to explain any more than that.' 

‘Naomi enjoys (age 4) ‘reading’ How to Hide a Lion or telling the story by looking at the pictures. She sometimes uses her own words for example, ‘now he has a hat’ and ‘he hid in a house’. Sometimes she uses words from the story such as ‘You can’t hide there!’ or ‘The lion was a hero.’ She is beginning to recognise a few words and spotted the word ‘hat’ (with prompting) and enjoyed making words which rhyme with hat from magnetic letters on the fridge.

Her favourite part is the end because the lion is a hero and has caught the robbers. She had fun making a lion mask and likes acting the story- she usually wants me to be the lion because she likes being the mum and screaming very loudly (!) She has enjoyed watching the YouTube clip of the story being told and this has been the incentive for getting changed for nursery on time for the last couple of months!’
Naomi also enjoyed finding out what happened to the lion and Iris in another book in the series How to Hide a Lion from Grandma.

Things to make and do

Make a lion mask
Use the template to make a lion mask.

Play the story
The lion had to be very still when he was hiding; can your child hide and be really still too? Children could wear their lion mask while hiding like a lion.

Have imaginary conversations between Iris and her parents about the lion or interviews with Iris, the lion or the mayor at the end of the story. One of you could be a reporter. A pretend microphone would make this more fun.

Draw a picture
Draw a picture as if it is a newspaper photograph of the end of the story, with a caption or headline eg Brave Lion catches burglars.

Write instructions
Children could write a list of instructions for how to hide a lion.

Set up a hat shop

Collect together a selection of hats ( woolly hats and sunhats would be fine) and  act out the lion looking for a hat and the shopkeeper helping him.  You could have fun describing what kind of hat they want or persuading the lion particular hats suit him. Perhaps you could find hats for a few soft toys too. A mirror would be handy for this activity.

Find out more

Read more books by Author illustrator Helen Stephens 

Titles include:

How to Hide a Lion at School

How to Hide a Lion from Grandma

Gracie Grabbit and the Tiger


Iris is very kind to the lion. Find out about another story where someone is kind to a lion
Androcles and the lion: A story from Ancient Greece. Watch the animation here:

Bedtime Stories Collection

Children might like to draw a picture of this story or tell the story to someone else.


Buy here