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Book Review: What Makes a Lemur Listen? by Samuel Langley-Swain & Helen Panayi (Owlet Press)

For ages 4+

If you know me even a little bit by now you'll know that I'm an Owlet Press fan! This small independent publisher is a giant when it comes to championing inclusive stories, authors and illustrators. Some personal favourites to date are 'Nen and the Lonely Fisherman', 'Little Glow', 'Sunflower Sisters', 'Me, In the Middle' and 'Omar, The Bees and Me'! I have a lot of favourites, right?! Well, this new offering is about to make it into my favourites too.

With a strong-minded young children of my own, I certainly can relate to this story! Finding that delicate balance between being an assertive parent (because you know better through experience/education) and actually making sure that your children are well equipped in case you're not around to help at a moment's notice is tough to achieve... Do these anxiety levels ever go away?

About the story

This gorgeous and colourful picture book by Sam Langley-Swain (Mr. Owlet Press himself), is a marvellous display book for a ‘recommended reads’ library shelf. The cover’s cute lemur and chameleon characters, illustrated by Helen Panayi, will draw even the most book-phobic child in to take a closer look, for sure! Using a stand out colour palette of blue and orange hues, this is a calming and simple juxtaposing a tricky subject matter for some children… LISTENING!

With a fable-like quality to the story, Sam’s young lemur, Maki, is introduced to the reader as rather happy and sweet, cuddling close to his Mama and siblings. However, he’s getting into a bit of bother lately, as he begins to think he knows best. He’s entering perhaps an all to familiar phase for some of us, when our youngsters start to find their bold. For example, it’s rather unnerving for a parent when a little one is around 6 years old and one day they just stop purposely holding your hand all the time whilst walking down a road, even worse, they think they’re ready to cross the road!

‘Too big’ and ’too clever’ to follow the lemur family troop rules, Maki turns his back on his rather exasperated Mama, and heads off solo into the jungle for a big adventure. His newfound freedom is just the ticket, that is until it starts to get dark. Feeling suddenly alone, far from home, hungry and afraid, he starts to have second thoughts... until the sun rises and he feels ready to face a new day alone, well if he’s made it this far...

The reader can see all the predators and all the lucky escapes that Maki is oblivious to in his naivety. It isn’t until Maki discovers that he’s been kept safe by a friendly young chameleon called Sofina camouflaged in the jungle all along, that perhaps he isn’t ready to stop listening to his Mama! Not only does Maki survive his night in the jungle alone to live another day, but he makes a new friend and learns a valuable lesson… LISTEN!

There’s a super fun opportunity to go back through the book at the end of the story to search for and find the cleverly camouflaged Sofina the chameleon, which the children will love!

The only thing that’s missing is some of the usually brilliant accompanying picture book activity sheets from Owlet Press, hopefully there will be something on the website soon (pretty please, Sam).

About the creators

Samuel Langley-Swain (author)

Founder of Owlet Press, Sam's world changed in 2014 when he became a Dad. Having never thought of writing books, he was dramatically inspired by his children and the new universe he’d entered into. His book What Wesley Wore has now been translated all over the world.

"I self-published my first book in September 2017 and sold over 7,000 copies in the first 12 weeks. As I toured the book it became important to me to be able to create positive change for children through stories, working with new authors who have the same beliefs as I do."

Helen Panayi (illustrator)

Helen Panayi is a freelance illustrator based in Leicestershire, where she studied for her degree in Illustration at Loughborough University. Her work always starts with a character, and her favourites are colourful, silly and a little weird. She tries to get to know them, and build a world around them.

Key themes






Buy the book!

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Format: Paperback

Publication date: 5 April 2022

Format: Kindle e-book

Publication date: 5 April 2022

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