Lionboy by Zizou Corder – Planning Overview

Written by Dan

Last updated

Are you seeking an exciting, heart-warming novel to spark discussion and debate in your classroom? Lionboy by Zizou Corder is the perfect literary text that encourages students to explore themes of courage, determination, friendship and self-identity.

With vivid characters and detailed plot lines full of exciting plot twists, this thrilling adventure story will captivate your students from beginning to end.

If you’re convinced, read as I break down a comprehensive plan for utilising this beloved book in the English curriculum – complete with reading assignments, thought-provoking activities and engaging discussions!

Related: For more, check out our Planning Overview of Way Home by Libby Hathorn  here.

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Storyline of Lionboy by Zizou Corder

Lionboy is the story of a young boy named Charlie Ashanti, who discovers he can talk to cats. This ability leads him on an exciting adventure to find his parents, who have gone missing on a mission, searching for the mysterious “cure” for asthma.

With the help of a group of royal lions, Charlie sets off on an ocean voyage from London to Paris, where he soon finds himself caught up in a dangerous political web that threatens his safety and those around him.

Along the way, Charlie learns many lessons about friendship, loyalty and courage as he battles pirates, outsmarts con artists and even saves a princess! In the end, Charlie’s resourcefulness and strength of spirit see him through every obstacle and reunite him with his beloved family.

Key Themes in Lion Boy

The Power of Friendship

The story of Charlie’s journey is filled with the themes of friendship and loyalty. Charlie receives help from various people and animals throughout his struggles, proving that kindness and cooperation can prevail even under challenging circumstances.

When Charlie is without a home or family, he finds solace in the friendship of the lions, who risk their lives to protect him and help him find his way.

The Strength of Family

The story depicts the strength that can be drawn from having a loving family unit. Despite facing many adversities while trying to find the cure for asthma, Charlie’s family never gives up hope, ultimately reuniting against all odds.

This theme is an emotional anchor for the book, emphasizing the importance of never giving up, no matter how difficult life may seem.

The Inevitability of Change

The story emphasizes the inevitability of change and how it can bring positive and negative consequences. Charlie must come to terms with the fact that he must leave some aspects of his old life behind if he wants to move forward; however, through this change, he discovers who he truly is and learns important lessons about himself and others around him.


Charlie displays remarkable resilience throughout his journey; despite facing many obstacles, he never loses sight of his goal. He does not give up when faced with danger or despair but instead uses all his inner strengths to push forward and eventually triumph over adversity.

Key Characters in Lionboy

Charlie Ashanti

Charlie is the main protagonist of the story. He is a young boy who discovers he can talk to cats, an ability that takes him on an exciting adventure in search of his parents and a cure for asthma. Along the way, Charlie learns loyalty, friendship and courage lessons that help him triumph over adversity.

The Royal Lions

Despite their formidable size, the royal lions accompany Charlie on his journey and are loyal friends and confidants. Led by the wise old lioness Lola, they risk their lives to protect Charlie and teach him important lessons about courage and resilience.

The Princess

The princess is a young woman who Charlie meets on his travels. She is kind-hearted, intelligent, and brave but also selfish; she puts her interests before those of others. Despite this, she helps Charlie during difficult times and eventually helps him find his family again.

Mr Cuffleberry

Mr Cuffleberry is a con artist who poses as a wealthy nobleman whose true agenda remains mysterious throughout the story. He attempts to manipulate others for his gain but fails due to Charlie’s persistence and cunning.

Teaching Opportunities in the Story

Power of Friendship

The power of friendship is a recurring theme throughout the story. Charlie finds loyal and supportive friends in many unlikely places, ultimately finding solace and strength through strong friendships even in difficult times.

This could be taught as an essential lesson that true friends come in all shapes and sizes and that even if it doesn’t seem like it, there are people out there who will support us during tough times.

Strength of Family

This is another central theme that also serves as an emotional anchor for the story. We learn how much strength can be drawn from having a loving family unit and never giving up hope despite facing adversity. This could be taught as a reminder to stay close to our families and to remain hopeful even when things seem bleak.

Inevitability of Change

The inevitability of change is another important lesson in the story; we learn that although change can bring both positive and negative consequences, it is often necessary to move forward. Through this change, we discover ourselves and our broader potential.

This could be taught as an opportunity to talk about how sometimes change can open up new possibilities and how it can be challenging to accept at first.


Charlie’s resilience throughout his journey serves as an inspiring example to others. Despite facing many obstacles, he never loses sight of his goal; he uses all his inner strengths to push forward, eventually overcoming adversity through sheer determination. This could be an example for students of resilience and how it can help them achieve goals despite difficult circumstances.

Lesson Plan 1: The Power of Friendship


Students will be able to discuss and reflect on how friendships can be a source of strength and resilience.


Introduce Charlie’s journey and talk briefly about the power of friendship in the story. Ask students to think about their experiences with friends and what it means to have loyalty from friends.

Main Teaching Points

  • Identify qualities found in strong friendships (examples: loyalty, respect, trust, honesty).
  • Examine how friendships can help us find the strength to overcome adversity.
  • Explore how having loyal friends is an essential part of life.
  • Discuss examples from literature/film/TV that reflect similar themes.
  • Reflect on personal experiences with friendship; ask questions such as “What role do strong relationships play in our lives?”

Reflection/Discussion Questions

  • What does it mean to have someone you can rely on?
  • How did Charlie’s friendships help him achieve his goals?
  • Are there any challenges or risks associated with having close friends?

Lesson Plan 2: Resilience


Students can discuss and reflect on resilience and its importance in reaching goals.


Introduce Charlie’s journey, note his persistence when faced with obstacles and talk briefly about resilience. Ask students to think about their experiences with adversity and how they can use their inner strength to push forward despite difficult circumstances.

Main Teaching Points

  • Define resilience; identify courage, persistence, grit, etcetera.
  • Discuss examples from literature/film/TV that demonstrate resilient behaviour.
  • Reflect on personal experiences with adversity; ask questions such as “How can we use our inner strengths in difficult times?”
  • Brainstorm strategies for facing challenging tasks or goals.
  • Encourage students to share positive stories relating to overcoming difficulties.

Reflection/Discussion Questions:

  • What factors contribute to being resilient?
  • When has resilience helped you achieve a goal or overcome an obstacle?
  • What advice would you give someone struggling with a difficult task or goal?

Website Resources

  1. TeachingBooks : This website contains various teaching resources, including lesson plans, book activities, and discussion ideas related to Zizou Corder’s novel “Lionboy”. It also includes author interviews and audio clips, making it an excellent resource for educators to find new ways to engage students with this book.
  2. Describing Circus Characters: This resource provides teachers with instructions and worksheets for a circus-inspired art activity that will encourage students to explore the characters from the book in more detail. It also helps them use their creativity as they describe each character’s appearance, mannerisms, and relationships with other characters in the story, furthering understanding and appreciation of the novel.
  3. Comprehension Questions: This worksheet includes comprehension questions related to various parts of Lionboy’s plot, allowing students to test their understanding of the story while reflecting on their interpretations of its themes and events.
  4. Library Sparks: This article published by Library Sparks talks about how Charlie Ashanti’s journey unfolds throughout the novel – from escaping his captors in Venice to reuniting with his beloved parents at London Zoo – making it an exciting read for both young adults and adults alike! The article also gives background information about Zizou Corder and links to other resources for further exploring this fantastic book series!

About The Author

I'm Dan Higgins, one of the faces behind The Teaching Couple. With 15 years in the education sector and a decade as a teacher, I've witnessed the highs and lows of school life. Over the years, my passion for supporting fellow teachers and making school more bearable has grown. The Teaching Couple is my platform to share strategies, tips, and insights from my journey. Together, we can shape a better school experience for all.






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