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“What is 4 x 12?” the maths teacher asked the class. Kritika didn’t put up her hand. She really didn’t care what 4x12 was – maths was so boring. All she was thinking about was the circus! After school finished, she picked up her bag and ran as fast as a cheetah, shouting to her best friend Padma to hurry up!


While Kritika and Padma were waiting in the long line at the circus ticket counter, a man dressed like a clown ran up to them. The crowd laughed because clowns look so funny with their fat plastic red noses and silly clothes. But they stopped laughing when the clown shouted into a loudspeaker: “Be careful! A lion has escaped.” Everyone in the line screamed and ran away. Only Kritika, Padma and the clown were left. Padma pulled Kritika’s hand and tried to make her run, but Kritika was so scared she couldn’t move. She was in shock – she’d always been scared of lions.


Suddenly they heard a loud roar and saw the lion. Padma screamed, and the clown ran away. He was in such a hurry, his loudspeaker fell down. Kritika quickly picked up the loudspeaker and roared into it – and she sounded much louder and scarier than the lion.


The lion was so frightened, it stared at Kritika with eyes like a sad kitten. Instead of roaring, it even said “meow” like a kitten! This made Kritika feel braver, so she shouted into the loudspeaker again, “Go back to your cage, you bad, bad lion!” she roared once more and the lion shook with fear. Just then, some men from the circus arrived and threw a net over the lion. They took it back to its cage. The crowd cheered and said, “Hip hip hooray!”


Kritika felt like a heroine when the circus boss shook her hand and photographers started clicking pictures of her. “I want to give you a big reward,� the circus boss said.


“All I want is an autographed photograph of my favourite actor Vijay,” Kritika said shyly. “Done! I’ll give it to you tomorrow,” the circus boss said.


The boss then invited Kritika and Padma to the circus. He made sure they got seats in the front row, and free popcorn! “Have you brought me an autographed photograph of Vijay,” she asked him, jumping up and down. “Yes,” the circus boss said. “And I’ve also brought something else for you.”


The next morning, Kritika felt so proud to see her photograph in the newspaper. The headline was, “Brave young girl tames lion!” A little later, a big shiny car arrived and parked outside Kritika’s house. The circus boss got out of the car and Kritika was very excited.


Kritika’s eyes almost jumped out of her face when another man got out of the car: it was Vijay! “Hello Kritika,” Vijay said with a big smile. “I’m here to congratulate the bravest little girl in Karnataka.” Vijay shook her hand and photographers started clicking pictures of Kritika again.


“Will you join us for lunch?” Kiritka’s mother asked Vijay and the circus boss. “I’ve made Kritika’s favourite food, biryani, for lunch.” Both of them said yes, and Kritika was so excited she felt her heart go thump thump thump! When she went to bed that night, she put the autographed photograph of Vijay under her pillow and smiled.


Glossary Boring Something which does not interest you Circus A place where people and animals perform together and put on a show

Cheetah The fastest animal, looks like a tiger with spots

Counter A surface, behind which a person giving Clown Crowd Funny Plastic Loudspeaker Careful Escaped Scared Shock Roar Frightened Kitten Meow

tickets stands A person dressed in a funny costume to perform and entertain children A group of people Something which makes you laugh A hard material that doesn’t break A machine which produces a louder sound than a person’s voice, when you speak into it To be aware Ran away To be afraid Reacting to something you did not expect The sound made by a lion To be scared A young cat The sound made by a cat

Arrived Heroine Boss Photographers Reward Autographed Shyly Popcorn Headline Excited Congratulate Biryani Thump Pillow

To come The girl or lady who saved the day The head person of a company, owner People who take photos of other people and things Something given in return for catching somebody or something Signed on In a gentle and soft spoken manner A snack which you get at movie theatres The main story in a newspaper To be happy about something To shake hands with someone as they did something good A dish made of rice and meat The sound of a heartbeat A soft cushion used to support head and neck while sleeping

Rupa Gulab Writer Rupa Gulab is a columnist and the author of Girl Alone, Chip of the Old Blockhead, The Great Depression of the 40s and I Kissed a Frog.

Shruti Jain Illustrator Shruti Jain is a Montessorian by training and an illustrator by choice. She lives in the City of Joy with her little son Arhant who brought with him the wonderful world of picture books. Her most notable achievement so far - the title of ‘Ms. Knowledgeable’ awarded by fellow classmates for raising hands for every question asked in the first year of college!


The Girl Who Scared the Lion

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