The Lion Above the Door

Onjali Q. Rauf

The Lion Above the Door
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The Lion Above the Door

Onjali Q. Rauf

From Onjali Q. Rauf, the award-winning and best-selling author of The Boy at the Back of the Class, comes an incredible story about missing histories and the concept of a universal family, told with humour and heart.       

Leo and his best friend Sangeeta are the odd ones out in their school. But as Leo’s dad is always telling him, it’s because they’re special. Only thing is, if they’re so special, how come they never see anyone who looks like them in their school history books?        

Then, on a class trip to a nearby cathedral, Leo’s attention is drawn to a large marble slab high above the doors of the hall. Right there, bang in the middle of a list of war heroes, Leo finds himself staring at something incredible: his own name.        

Desperate to know who this other Leo was, the two friends embark on a search. And together, they begin to uncover missing stories from the past, ones which they are determined to put back into their rightful place in the pages of history.       

Touching on themes of historical racism, The Lion Above the Door shines a light on the stories our history books have yet to contain and the power of friendships that can last through generations.


Leo belongs to one of only a few Asian families in Whot. When their class starts studying the Second World War (WW2), Leo and his friend Sangeeta wonder why there aren’t any faces that look like theirs in the history books. Then, on a school trip, Leo finds his exact name on a plaque dedicated to WW2 heroes. Together with Sangeeta and Olivia, the most popular girl in the school, Leo is determined to uncover and tell the other Leo’s story, and help Sangeeta draw attention to the role of women in the war. The Lion Above the Door really highlights how whitewashed our history is. It’s a British book but its message is no less relevant in Australia, where First Nations people delayed fighting for their own rights in order to fight for a country that refused to recognise them as people. I loved this book and highly recommend it for all kids ages 9+.

Dani Solomon is the manager of Readings Kids.

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