Pulling the Lion's Tail

Pulling the Lion's Tale by Jane Kurtz. Illustrated by Floyd Cooper. (1995) Reading Level: Ages 4-10. 32 pages. Simon & Schuster. ISBN: 0689803249.

Pulling the Lion's Tail

Pulling the Lion's Tail is a story about surviving grief and also a story about learning patience for the things in life that come slowly. Inspired by a traditional Ethiopian tale, it tells of one girl's determination to pull the hair from a lion's tail that she thinks will win her stepmother's love. In classrooms, it's nicely paired with Newbery Award-winner, Sarah Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan.


  • NCSS-CBC Notable Children's Trade Book in the Field of Social Studies, 1995
  • (British version) One of Young Book Trust's 100 Best Books of 1996
  • "A retelling of the Ethiopian folktale "The Lion's Whiskers." In the traditional story, a new stepmother learns to be patient in drawing her stepson into accepting her. Kurtz's version has a female child as the central character, emphasizing her persistent attempts to reach out to her father's new wife after her mother's death. The details of mourning and her daily life make the forlorn Almaz seem real, and the respectful warmth of her relationship with her wise grandfather is sensitively portrayed. ~ School Library Journal
  • " (Kurtz) tells [the story] from the point of view of the child who feels rejected and who tries to win her new stepmother's love. When the child Almaz asks her grandfather how to win over her stepmother, he tells Almaz to bring him some hair from the tail of a lion." ~ BooklistPulling the Lion's Tail
  • "Almaz hates to wait for anything. It has been a year since her mother died, and she wants her father's new wife to love her right away. Her wise grandfather promises to tell her how to win her stepmother's affection, if she will bring him a handful of hair from the tail of a lion. As she gains the trust of the lion, she also becomes close to her new stepmother--one step at a time." ~ Good Reads
  • Pulling the Lion's Tail, a Hebrew translation, available only in Israel.
    (see cover image on right)