In this small format picture book for older readers a young man decides that he wants a lion tattoo on his shoulder. He saunters to the tattooist full of bravado, but when she begins her work and he feels the pain of the needle the young man suddenly decides that his lion does not need a tail, a mane or even a stomach. He is ignominiously thrown out of the tattooist’s studio with the words “Brother, you just can’t stand the pain” ringing in his ears.
This witty illustrated story has a graphic novel style and is aimed at teen readers with its cautionary tale of an overconfident young man whose opinion of his own image and stamina proves to be sadly mistaken. It appears to be a very modern story but is in fact a fable from the thirteenth century poet Rumi’s book Masnavi. Rumi was a poet, philosopher and Sufi mystic and this humorous morality tale, presented in a small, square, cloth-covered picture book format, is the third in publisher Little Owl’s series of fables by the author.
The cartoon style illustrations by Atefeh Maleki Joo match the wit of Rumi’s tale, adding clever touches, such as the depiction of an angry lion depleted of mane and tail. It is hard to imagine this book reaching the hands of its target audience, other than as a gift, but it is welcome nevertheless to come across a fable from an Eastern philosophical tradition, rather than the usual Aesop range available.