Guion the lion, the namesake of Rebecca Wilson Macsovits's new children's book, sees the world in his own way. A giraffe chewing on a plant is actually a scary dragon. A hippo named Hoke, swimming in a swamp full of weeds, is really a mermaid on a pirate ship. Throughout the story, Guion tries to get his friend Rae, a lovable bushbaby, to see things from his perspective, but she struggles to do so.
Inspiring these adorable characters are the Denver author's three children. The lion was based on her fourteen-year-old son Guion, who was born with Down syndrome. Rae the bushbaby stands in for Macsovits's youngest daughter, a practical thinker. Hoke the hippo, who is always surrounded by friends in the book, resembles her middle child.
"Guion, my son, sees the world in different ways," Macsovits says. "I made some spaghetti squash, and he said, 'Mom, this reminds me of DNA.' Eating a piece of cake, he said, 'It looks like a scene out of Lion King.'"
Macsovits never knows where her son's imagination will go, but she does her best to see things from his perspective.
Guion the Lion reminds readers that we often have contrasting worldviews, and that's okay. The book also aims to teach children to be patient and focus on the positive and their abilities rather than their disabilities.
"While Down syndrome is seen as a disability, we focus on getting him to do what he can do," Macsovits says. "He has chores around the house. He has to make his own bed and clean his room," she says. While raising a child with Down syndrome is not free of challenges, she notes, it is rewarding.
Macsovits wishes that people wouldn't underestimate the abilities of those with Down syndrome. "People see Guion and his Down syndrome and discount what he has to offer because they can’t get past the exterior," she says. "He’s very compassionate and caring. He’s human, and he has so much to offer the world."
And that world, Macsovits says, could be more accepting. While the book is inspired by someone with Down syndrome, the message is much bigger than that. "It’s to people who see themselves as being typical, and getting them to see people who are different from themselves as interesting."
Although Guion struggles to get Rae to see the magic in the world that he does, by the end both characters can finally understand the beauty that the other experiences.
As the book comes to a close, Rae says to Guion: "I can't wait to see what tomorrow will bring."
Guion the Lion is available at Guionthelion.com for $17.99.
Correction, November 6, 2020: The author's name was misspelled in an earlier version of this story.
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