Jens Mattsson & Jenny Lucander

Original Title
Vi är LAJON!
Natur & Kultur, Stockholm, September 2018
Picture books
Rights Sold
Traditional Chinese
English NA
, , ,


Jens Mattsson & Jenny Lucander

I’m a lion! My big brother, too. Roaaar! We are a pride. We hunt gazelles and wildebeest on the savannah. When we catch them, we eat them. Because we are dangerous.

Little brother and big brother have the world’s best imagination together. They are dangerous lions on the savannah. When big brother gets sick, he can only roar quietly. But lions don’t want to be tied up in tubes and drips, and soon they are hunting again. A lady-zebra with a walker, and an old man-hippo in pajamas, they are all prey at the hospital. When big brother gets very tired, little brother thinks: Soon we’ll hunt again.

A tender, humorous and heartbreaking story about the love between two brothers and the power of play and imagination in overcoming the unspeakable grief when the older brother gets sick.

Press voices

Winner of the Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize, the jury’s motivation: “This year’s winning book is undeniably on the side of the child, with a child’s perspective permeating both the text and the pictures. Play serves as the ultimate healer in the most difficult of times, such as when a young child becomes terminally ill. The make-believe savannah with its vibrant orange colours penetrates the bleak world of the hospital. The disorderly game contains all the sorrow and anxiety triggered by the disease. The pictures, decorative elements, and colouration cockily enter into the dialogue of such traditional Nordic picture books as those of Ingrid Vang Nyman and Tove Jansson, but with a completely new expression full of original perspectives, line drawings, colour choices, and character design. The style of the text echoes this approach, with its clever self perspective coloured by the grandiloquence of the game. The portrayal of the parents’ care and despair is the work’s points of pain and rest. The brotherly love and courageous end to the book in turn suggest that a new Nangijala exists. The work is a Nordic collaboration of the highest calibre, deeply moving and open to readers of all ages.

This shattering picture book is practical and elevating in equal measure. … As unflinching as a child’s questions, and brutally compelling.” School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

Inspired and sensitive storytelling that will help little ones make sense of a potentially disturbing topic.” Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW


Winner of the Nordic Council Children and Young People’s Literature Prize 2020

Nominated to the Slangbellan prize for best debut 2019, Sweden

Special mention, Punnipriset, Finland

Selected by the Bank Street College of Education in New York as one of the Best Children’s Books of the Year 2024