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A Lion to Guard Us

A Lion to Guard Us

A Lion to Guard Us

4/5 (13 ratings)
107 pages
1 hour
Jun 25, 2013


The inspiring classic that The New Yorker called "an exciting tale [with] top-notch writing," about one girl facing harsh conditions and huge responsibility as she brings her family to the American colonies. 

Featuring a heroine with faith, courage, and a great deal of grit, this acclaimed historical fiction novel portrays the realities faced by three children hoping to find a new home in an unknown land.

Amanda Freebold doesn't know what to do. Her father left three years ago for the new colony of Jamestown in America, thousands of miles away. But now that her mother has died, Amanda is left to take care of her younger brother and sister all alone back in England.

As the new head of the family, Amanda finally decides to take her brother and sister to America to find Father. The ocean crossing is long and hard, and the children don't know whom to trust. But with her father's little brass lion's head to guard them, Amanda knows that somehow everything will work out.

Jun 25, 2013

About the author

Clyde Robert Bulla is the author of over fifty books for children including The Secret Valley and The Story of Valentine’s Day. He has been writing since 1946 when he published his first book, The Donkey Cart. Mr. Bulla was the first recipient of the Southern California Council on Children’s Literature award for distinguished contribution to the field. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

Book Preview

A Lion to Guard Us - Clyde Robert Bulla



The Sailor Man

On a February morning in the year 1609, a small, thin-faced man made his way over London Bridge. He wore a leather jacket and a blue wool stocking cap. His clothes were splashed with mud, and mud sucked at his shoes. He could hardly see for the cold rain in his face.

He had been looking for Fish Street, and here it was, at the end of London Bridge. Now he was looking for a house on Fish Street—a great stone house not far from the bridge.

Here was one with tall chimneys and many windows. It must be the house, he thought. He went around to the back.

A plump, pretty maid opened the door.

Would this be the Trippett house? he asked.

She looked at his muddy clothes. What do you want?

A word with Mistress Freebold, if she’s about.

Mistress Freebold? Oh, you mean Annie. You can’t see her, said the maid. She’s sick abed.

Could you just let her know there’s someone here from America—?

America? The maid stared into his face. Then you must be— She was gone. He heard her crying out, Amanda, Amanda!

Someone came running. Someone cried, Father! and a girl was there. She looked no more than ten or eleven—a pale little thing with great, dark eyes.

She stopped. She said in bitter disappointment, You’re not my father.

I shouldn’t think so, said the man.

Ellie said you were from America, and she thought—I thought—

So you’re James Freebold’s girl, he said.

One of them. I’m Amanda. She asked quickly, Do you know my father?

I do, and I saw him not many weeks ago. We were together in America, in the colony of Virginia. I’m a sailor, you see, and my ship was there—

And you saw him. Her eyes were bright again. Was he well? What did he say?

He was well enough, for all I could see. He’d built a house in Jamestown. That’s the only town there. When my ship sailed, he asked if I’d stop for a word with his family in London. He thinks of you each day. He prays you will all be together before another year is out.

Tears came to her eyes. When you see him, will you tell him—?

I’ll not be seeing him again, the man broke in. It’s a long, hard voyage to Virginia. I’ll not be going back.

Oh, she said.

Someone was calling, Amanda!

You’re wanted, he said. I’ll take my leave.

But you’ll come again?

He shook his head. I’ve told my tale. Good-day to you.

He left her. He was gone, and she didn’t know his name or where to find him again, and there were a hundred things she hadn’t asked. She hadn’t even said thank you.

She took a step after him, but Cook’s voice called her back. "A-man-da!"

She closed the door. She went down the long, cold hall and into the kitchen.

Cook was at the table, beating eggs. Her face was red. Her cap was over one eye.

Who gave you leave to stand in the door and talk all day? she said. Who was that man?

Ellie the maid came out of the pantry. Oh, Amanda, was it your father?

The door to the back stairs opened. A small boy put his head out. Was it Father? he asked.

Jemmy! cried Amanda. You know you’re not to come in here. No, it wasn’t Father.

His head disappeared, and the door closed.

Amanda told Cook and Ellie, "It was a sailor man back from Virginia. He saw my father there. He talked to him. Father is well—and he’s built a house— and he thinks of us—"

Cook gave a snort. He does, does he? He thinks of you so much that he sails off and leaves you for three whole years.

Oh, that’s cruel! said Ellie.

Hold your tongue, miss, said Cook, and Amanda, you get back to your work.

She went off into the pantry.

As soon as Cook was gone, Amanda opened the door to the back stairs. The small boy was sitting on the steps. A smaller girl sat beside him.

It wasn’t Father. It was a sailor man, Amanda said. "But he saw Father. Just think of that. I’ll tell you about it tonight."

Will it be a story? asked the boy.

"It will be like a story," said Amanda, and she shut the door.


A Story

Mistress Trippett and all her family had had their supper. The servants had been fed. Amanda was in the kitchen alone.

She had just washed the pots and pans and hung them over the fireplace to dry. She looked in at her brother and sister on

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What people think about A Lion to Guard Us

13 ratings / 8 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (3/5)
    this book is good to read...i think of recommed this book.
  • (4/5)
    May or may not be a spoiler:

    My almost 9 year old and I read this aloud. She was very into it as I was. However, the ending we got a major cliff hanger. Ever my child was like wait what?? That’s it?? Why would they do that.? My feelings exactly. Overall the story was good and easy for children to understand.
  • (3/5)
    On June 2, 1609, the Sea Adventure plus eight other ships sailed from Plymouth, England bound for the colony Virginia. These ships were bringing relief to the settlers of Jamestown as this young colony was at war with the natives and facing starvation. A Lion to Guard Us by Clyde Robert Bulla is a children’s tale based on this episode. During the crossing a massive storm struck and drove the Sea Adventure aground off the shore of Bermuda. The settlers spent nine months on Bermuda and managed to built two smaller ships that they sailed safely to Jamestown. They luckily brought a lot of food with them from Bermuda and these supplies helped to keep Jamestown going until more ships arrived from London.A Lion to Guard Us is aimed at children that are 8 to 12 years and because of this there really isn’t a lot of detail added to the story or character development. Amanda is a thirteen year old girl who after the death of her mother, is trying to get herself and her younger sister and brother to Jamestown to find their father. They find a berth on the Sea Adventure. The historical details are slight with most of the author’s attention being on the story of these children dealing with all that is placed in their way. Written in a straight forward, simple style for middle school age children, I think perhaps this story might be too simple to appeal to today’s children. It is interesting to note that the story of the Sea Adventure caught the attention of William Shakespeare and he went on to base his play The Tempest on this lost ship.
  • (4/5)
    This could be my first historical fiction outside of schoolbooks (waayyy back when;)). I loved it.
  • (3/5)
    Historical fiction based on three young children crossing to Jamestown. Written in language easy for young reader to understand. Story did not go into enough depth in order for reader to become really engaged in the story.
  • (5/5)
    This book was an interesting story following a girl and her two siblings on their journey to America. Their father left them to go build houses in America to make more money; the mother falls sick and passes away while in London. The children then decide to go on the journey to America to find their father. On the way they go through difficulties that they have to overcome.