Bonjour Happy Lion!The Happy Lion written by Louise Fatio was published in 1954 and was the first in a series of Happy Lion books illustrated by her famous husband Roger Duvoisin. (You may know Duvoisin from the much loved Petunia books, as well as Donkey Donkey, The Beaver Pond, and White Snow Bright Snow.)
The Happy Lion is a delightful story about a a lion whose home was a "lovely French town with brown tile roofs and gray shutters." He lived in the town zoo with a rock garden in the middle of a park with flowerbeds and a bandstand.
Everyday the townsfolk would stop by to say "Bonjour Happy Lion." His favorite was the keepers son, little Francois who stopped by everyday on his way to and from school.
One day the Happy Lion noticed the door to his enclosure was left open, so he decided to walk into town to visit his friends. But when he politely said "Bonjour" the townsfolk all run away from him in fear. The Happy Lion was confused by this, so he sat down and thought, "this must be the way people behave when they are not at the zoo." He continued strolling along looking for a friend who would not "faint, or scream, or run away."
Finally, the Fire Department is called in to take the lion back to the zoo. The Happy Lion is intrigued and unaware that they are there to capture him, so he calmly sits down to watch. As the firemen advance toward him, he hears a friendly voice say "Bonjour Happy Lion."
It is little Francois and the lion is very happy to see him. Francois puts his arm around the lion and walks him back to the park zoo, as all the townspeople shout "BONJOUR HAPPY LION" from the safety of their balconies and windows. From then on, the Happy Lion thought it best to stay at the zoo where he was happy to sit in his rock garden and wait for his friends to visit him "like polite and sensible people."