Charlie Ashanti is on the run from an amazing floating circus with six homesick beautiful Lions and an extraordinary sabre-toothed creature. Charlie has promised to help the Lions find their way home to Morocco but he has his own problems: his Mum and Dad have been kidnapped and he is determined to find them. His new friends, King Boris of Bulgaria and his security chief, Edward, have promised to help. But can Charlie and the Lions trust them? One thing is for sure, the chase is on
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Zizou Corder is Louisa Young and Isabel Adomakah Young, whose names are too long to fit on the front of a book. Louisa is a grown-up and has written five grown-up books. Isabel is a kid and has written mostly schoolwork. The original Zizou is Isabel's lizaed, only he spells it Zizu. This is their second novel - the next in the Lionboy trilogy. They all live in London. Only one goes to school. Read by Anton Lesser: Anton Lesser is an associate of the Royal Shakespeare Company and has appeared in numerous film, TV and theatre productions including Private Lives at The National Theatre, Art at Wyndhams and Ecosse Films' Charlotte Gray. Recent television appearances include the BBC series Perfect Strangers, Vanity Fair and Peter Ackroyd's DickensExcerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
It is a curious thing for a boy to be stuck on a train in an Alpine snowstorm, in a bathroom with six homesick lions and a huge unidentified saber–toothed creature. More curious still to know that bustling around next door in his purple silk dressing gown is a friendly Bulgarian king called Boris, and his security chief, name of Edward, who makes a point of knowing everything there is to know, and perhaps a little more.
If you were a boy whose parents—clever scientists—had been stolen by a villainous lad from your neighborhood in London, on behalf of you’re not sure whom, but almost certainly because they have invented a cure for asthma, you might be happy to think that these lions and this king were on your side. If you and the lions had run away from a floating circus and a nasty, mysterious lion trainer, you might take the chance to relax for a moment, knowing that neither he, nor the villainous lad—who has anyway been savaged by one of the lions— could make it through the snow to get you.
If the oldest lion said to you: “We are warm and dry, and we have eaten, and we are together. Someone else is going to mend the train that will roar us through this mysterious dangerous weather to the place where your parents are, closer to our home. But now—now we are safe.” If he said that , you might feel warm and cheered up and happy.
This is exactly how Charlie Ashanti felt. Charlie felt as close to safe as he had felt in weeks. The beautiful lions were lying in a pile around him: the three lionesses resting after their chase; the oldest lion calmly triumphant at their escape, Elsina the young girl lion still weak from their adventures on the train’s roof but so excited to be out in the real world; and the young lion, Charlie’s friend, fast asleep with his head in Charlie’s lap. Next door was King Boris in his glamorous carriage, promising help when they reached Venice. Rafi Sadler and Maccomo the lion trainer were safely stuck in Paris, and the snow was covering the train like a huge snuggly quilt.
Now, Charlie said to himself, is the time to sleep and eat and relax, so we will be fit and strong for the troubles ahead. Because without a doubt, there were going to be troubles ahead.
Charlie’s parents, Dr. Aneba Ashanti and Professor Magdalen Start, were in big trouble already. You wouldn’t necessarily think it, to see them sitting at opposite ends of the social club in the Corporacy Gated Village Community. The Club Room was long and low and comfortable, with a glass wall looking out over a beautiful subtropical garden, full of palm trees and huge rounded rocks with a stream trickling over them. At least—Magdalen had thought it was beautiful, until she noticed that every rock was the same shape exactly, and made of some kind of plastic. She peered carefully at the trees. Were they fake too?
She was sitting with a group of women, all talking about how fat they were. They had dishes of chips and glasses of wine in front of them. “Oh no, I shouldn’t,” they cried, as they stuffed their faces with food that was bad for them. A lot of them were smoking too.“You’ll get wrinkles from smoking,” said one.
“Clare’s got fabulous skin,” said another. “Don’t you hate her?”
Magdalen wondered why you should hate somebody just because she has pretty skin. She wondered why these women were worried about getting wrinkles from smoking but not about cancer. She wondered why they could only talk about how fat they were, when they weren’t particularly fat anyway, and if they were really worried about it, why didn’t they stop drinking and eating the chips? And if they wanted to eat chips and drink wine, why did they keep telling themselves off for doing so? Why not just enjoy it?
She felt very tired. She couldn’t quite remember how they got here, to tell the truth—Rafi Sadler tricking her and Aneba had faded from her mind somehow, and so had the long journey to this place by submarine and boat and truck. She didn’t think they’d been here very long. She knew she didn’t like it. She wanted to be left alone, to not listen to this rubbish. She wanted to see her son and be with her husband and get some work done. Her brain was turning to mushy gunk here. She knew she was meant to be somewhere else, leading a different life. She felt very tired. I just thought that, she thought. What’s wrong with me?
Looking up, she caught a glimpse of Aneba across the room. He didn’t look very well. His skin, normally gleaming black, had an ashy tinge to it. The whites of his eyes were a little yellow. His big muscular shoulders, normally so broad and straight, seemed to have sagged.
“You’ve put on a bit of weight yourself, haven’t you?” said one of the women to Magdalen.
At the other end of the room, Aneba was watching soccer on television with a group of men. Aneba liked soccer, but this was the fourth match in a row. The men were complaining about how bad the players were, and the managers, and the referee, and the linesmen. They were drinking beer and eating peanuts and saying they could do much better themselves. Under the smell of cigarette smoke there was another flavor in the air. He half recognized it. Didn’t like it.
After one of the matches, the news had come on. The Empire soldiers had had to shoot up a city in the Poor World, and lots of civilians had been shot and there were no medicines available. There were pictures of children with dirty bandages on, looking terrified and hungry. The men looked up briefly, and said: “That’s terrible,” then went back to complaining. “Nothing you can do, though, is there?” said one. Aneba could see that the man felt bad, and liked him for it.
“Never mind, mate,” said a second man. “Have another beer.”Aneba knew there was something else he ought to be doing, but he couldn’t really remember what.
Looking up, he saw Magdalen on the other side of the room. She didn’t look very well. Her red hair wasn’t curly and chaotic as usual. It had gone flat.
Soon they’d be due back at the Wellness Unit for their Motivational Management Therapy.
“Cheer up, mate,” said one of the men. “Have a drink.”
Aneba tried hard to remember what he was normally like.
If Charlie had seen his energetic, intelligent parents like this, he would have revised his opinion that they were not in any immediate danger. He would have been shocked.
Trouble had already announced itself at Thibaudet’s Royal Floating Circus and Equestrian Philharmonic Academy (also known as Tib’s Gallimaufry or the Show). Major Maurice Thibaudet (pronounced Tib–oh–day), the Boss, Ringmaster and Maestro of the Circus, had been lounging in his cabin on board the giant circus–ship Circe, wearing a pale green robe that matched the carved paneling, and drinking a glass of brandy and soda. The Show’s opening night in Paris had been fabulous, and everybody had said so. Major Tib and most of the circusguys had stayed up late afterward, drinking and congratulating themselves. The others were all still in bed with hangovers (except for Pirouette the Flying Trapeze Artiste, and the Lucidi family of acrobats, who always got up early to practice, no matter what). Major Tib himself was too tough for hangovers, but even so, he didn’t really expect to be entertaining visitors at such a moment. His visitor, a gentlemen from the French Railway, was a little embarrassed.
Major Tib smiled a pale, elegant smile and took a sip of his brandy.
“The lions!” he drawled in his lazy southern Empire voice. “What do you mean? Ain’t no problem with our lions. Mighty early in the morning to come round complainin’ about something that ain’t a problem, don’t ya think?”
“Monsieur,” said the visitor delicately. “Last night a very peculiar tale emerged. There was an English boy trying to stop the Orient Express from leaving the station. He was very wet and crazy and saying there were lions in the train, stolen runaway lions and a young thief who has stolen them. He said that one of the lions has attacked him, and that the lions are from your circus, and somebody throw him in the Canal St. Martin down by Bastille....Obviously this is nonsense and he is very crazy, so we send him to the secure hospital. But in the dawn the hospital calls me and says this boy has serious hurts on his arm and shoulder like some big thing is bitten him. Big thing. No mosquito, you know. The boy is bloody and angry and wet and crazy, but yes, he has this big bite on him, and the hospital says well it could be lion bite, most likely dog or something and maybe he get rabies and that’s why he so crazy, but you know... the boy said the lions are from here, belonging to your famous trainer Monsieur Maccomo. So I have to check. I am sorry. You understand.”
“You’re saying I’ve let crazy lions with rabies escape from my circus and bite people?” said Major Tib. “That what you’re sayin’? You better be sure, Monsieur, because that’s pretty serious.”
“I say let’s go to check the lions.”
“Sure,” said Major Tib. He leaped to his feet, his robe flashing out behind him. He was very tall and thin, and crossed the cabin in a second to fling open the door. “Come on!” he said, with a grin.
Major Tib strode across the deck, the Railway gentleman scurrying along behind him. “Morning, Sigi!” he cried to the father of the Lucidis, upside down in the rigging between the Big Top and the smokestacks. “Seen Maccomo this morning?”
“No, Major Tib,” Sigi called back. “Not last night neither.”
The lioncabin was on the same deck as Major Tib’s, the other side of the Circe’s on–board Big Top. It took them only a moment to get there. And only a moment to fling open the door, and less than a moment to see that all the lioncages were empty. Where six lions should have been dozing or gazing, there was nothing. Where Maccomo should have been sleeping, rolled in his beautiful cloth, there was nothing.
Major Tib sucked in a breath, and frowned for a split second.
Then: “Probably in the Ring, exercising,” he declared with a flash of reassuring smile. He knew they weren’t. They never exercised till midmorning, when they’d had a chance to warm up. Pirouette would be in the Ring at this time, and the ringboys clearing up after last night. “Why don’t you go wait in my cabin while I locate Monsieur Maccomo?” he suggested. “I’ll send you over a coffee.” He was still smiling.
“I go with you. Thanks,”said the Railway gentleman.
Major Tib’s smile wore a little thin.
“As you wish,” he said, and burst out of the lioncabin to the ropelocker just next door, where the boys slept.
“Charlie!” he roared as he flung the door open.
Julius, the clown’s son, and Hans, the boy who trained the Learned Pig, leaped up in fright, and each bumped his head on the shelf above and cried out.
Charlie, of course, was not there.
“Where is he!” roared Major Tib. “Where is Maccomo! Where are my damn lions!!!”Julius and Hans stared. “Haven’t seen them,” quavered Hans.
“Julius?” said Major Tib.
“Maccomo went out last night,” said Julius. “He went for dinner with Mabel Stark. The tiger trainer.”
Major Tib yanked his cell phone out of his robe pocket and punched in a number.
A moment later he spoke.
“Mabel, my dear,” he said suavely. “I’m so sorry to call you so early on this beautiful mornin’, and I do hope you don’t find my inquiry indiscreet, but do you happen by the slightest chance to have the slightest idea where Maccomo might possibly be?”
There was a murmur on the other end.
“Well no, of course not, ma’am, and I’m sorry to...Mabel, honey, he ain’t here, and his boy ain’t here, and I’m just a little perturbed....”
The voice at the end perked up no end.
“Okay, honey,” he said. “You call me. Okay?” He clicked the phone and turned to the Railway gentleman.
“Says they had dinner last night and she ain’t seen him since....There been any other reports of lions being seen?” he asked suddenly.
“No,” said the Railway gentleman. “Of course I consulted the police.”
“Get up, boys, and search the ship,” cried Major Tib. “Find Charlie. Find Maccomo. Find the lions, or any sign of where they’ve been. Get the ringboys out to help. Any sign.”
All this had taken place while Charlie had been meeting and making friends with King Boris, during which time the snow had begun to fall and the poor lions, riding (for purposes of discretion and not being spotted) on the roof of the train, had been caught in the snowstorm. They had nearly caught their deaths of cold before Charlie went up on the roof in the dreadful gale and brought them down. At just about lunchtime—the time when Charlie slammed the trapdoor shut on the eddying, whooshing, icy snowstorm outside, and started to warm up the poor frozen creatures with hot water and his mother’s Improve Everything Lotion—Maccomo walked up the Circe’s gangplank.
He looked very different from the calm, enigmatic man whom Charlie had first met weeks ago, the man whose calmness spread over everybody in his vicinity like a numbing sludge. Now his white African pajamas were scuffed and disheveled after his night out, his unshaven chin showed nubs of white stubble against his dry, gray–looking dark skin, and his hands were shaking. Nevertheless, anyone could see that he was still a man of character, with his barrel–like chest and the curious flash in the depths of his eyes.
He went straight to Major Tib’s cabin.
“Major Tib,” he said.
The Ringmaster knew how to shout—of course he did. So he shouted, for about ten minutes.
At the end Maccomo said simply, “I resign.”
“You’re creakin’ sacked, Maccomo—you’re sacked! And you won’t be working again in circus, don’t imagine you will. And don’t think you’ll be paid—you’ve lost me a valuable asset here—”
“The lions are mine, sir,” said Maccomo with the flash in his eyes more like his old self.
Major Tib laughed. “Then you’ll be facing the police charges about letting them run off? And you’ll be paying the fine? And what will you be doing about my reputation, Maccomo? How you going to make it up to me for making my circus look so bad? You gonna go round tellin’ everybody it was your fault and your mistake? You gonna tell the police that?”
The Railway gentleman sat quietly. “The police are on their way,” he said mildly.
“You gonna take responsibility for Charlie then? He’s disappeared too. And what about that English boy they savaged?”
Maccomo sat up. “What English boy?” he asked.
“Rafi Sadler,” said the Railway gentleman.
“I must go and look at the cabin,” he said. “See how they got out.”
The Railway gentleman went with Maccomo to the lioncabin. Calmly Maccomo looked around. He gathered together some things in a bag. “The police will want to take me, I suppose,” he said. The Railway gentleman didn’t really know what to say.
“Excuse me,” said Maccomo, gesturing to a small door at the back of the cages. “I should look....” He pulled a lever, the door opened, and he peered through. The Railway gentleman smiled politely.
Maccomo was down the lions’ special secure tunnel to the Ring before the Railway gentleman even realized the door led anywhere, and he was off the Ci...
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Book Description Puffin, 2005. Audio CD. Book Condition: Neu. neu, noch in Schutzfolie, Versand spätestens am nächsten Werktag 447284 Sprache: Deutsch Gewicht in Gramm: 200. Bookseller Inventory # 133331