Here's what the readers of "The Lion of Tupungato" are saying:


"What a lovingly told story about an unusual friendship developed after a young girl's loss of her mother. A friendship ensues under the most unusual circumstances and the story begins. It takes the girl, Sedona and a lion named Pansy down a path of blossoming friendship. Along the way, various events play out, some through karma, some from opening themselves back up to life. Good changes start to happen and new attitudes come to light not only for the two main characters but, for all the people in Sedona & Pansy's life. The story shows how life is much like a book of chapters, one closing while the next begins. So creatively well told and illustrated. It's a book for any age actually and was a joy to read, reminding me of the importance of family and friendship, grieving and reawakening. Kudos to the author!" ~Athena Hart-Kolle (From Amazon reviews)


"A long conversation between Grandfather Mateo and his granddaughter Sedona, in which Sedona learns much about her family history and the way she wants to live, is the foundation of this gentle illustrated children's novel by Leanne Benson. I wish her all good luck.” ~Alison McGhee (Author)


“I just read the manuscript.  I couldn't stop reading it until I was finished.  I am going to read it to my three granddaughters starting tonight.  I can't wait to meet you.  I love the story, all the wonderful messages about life and how to live it and the characters.  I think you developed them so well.  Oh, so awesome to read something as special as this... giving me such joy.”  ~Jan Strootman


”Not many people have the talent to excel at more than one part of the creative process but you've nailed the Triple Crown with writing, illustrating, and clay figures!” ~ Janet Nelson


“I really love the characters, setting, story, and how natural everything comes about in it. In this heartwarming, delightful adventure… The endearing characters, how their relationships grow with one another, the beautiful scenes, and the words of encouragement and lessons learned will lead you on an incredible journey you won’t want to end. I can’t wait for their next adventure!”  ~Heidi J. Peterson


“Benson’s storytelling skills are fantastic, giving so many “teachable moments,” …realizes the importance of having people in your life to encourage you, to tell you ‘you have what it takes,’ and to love and support you.  Her illustrations, which appear throughout, are outstanding.” ~Steve Anderson


“The Lion of Tupungato is a magical book of friendship that will touch all who read it.”      ~Brigham B.  Age 10


“A warm and exciting adventure showing that sometimes love and courage can come when you least expect them.” ~Lincoln B. Age 12

"I just finished reading this beautiful story! Lovely illustrations and wonderful messages.  You should be proud of your accomplishments!"

-Patricia B.


The Lion of Tupungato, children’s story goes international. This wonderful Argentinian News article written in Spanish has been translated into English. Below the English translation is the original article. Enjoy!

Leanne Benson, the writer who dreamed of an African lion in Mendoza

In a talk with MDZ (Mendoza News Organization), the North American author of "The Lion of Tupungato" told how the curious idea of ​​an Asiatic lion in Mendoza came up, and what message is behind her book.
Monday, April 29, 2019

Leanne Benson does not know Argentina. “The closest I've been is when I visited my daughter in Guatemala,” he acknowledges. The American author of the children's book "The Lion of Tupungato" does not hide this fact when she talks to Mendoza about her novel, but she does not believe it was necessary to tell a factual story that happens in Mendoza.

“I have enjoyed traveling to Africa, India and many European countries. However, the closest I've been to Argentina was when I traveled to Guatemala to visit my daughter, while she spent three years in the Peace Corps,” says Leanne. In her account, an African lion survives a plane crash and is adopted by a young woman in Tupungato. "This story of an Argentine family, who years later emigrated to the US, was a way to attract young readers to learn more about the world," sums up the author.
The story of an African lion that survived after crashing a plane in Tupungato
Although factual data is unimportant in a children's story, Leanne took the trouble to try to have the province represented as reliably as possible. “I was lucky to find a young Argentine girl living in my area. She was kind enough to check if there were large discrepancies or wrong information about her country before this story was printed,” he says. “At one point he even contacted his mother in Argentina to ask for advice. Knowing that this was a fictional story for children, we weren’t concerned about the exact details, ”he adds.
Despite not knowing Mendoza and its mountains, the cover of the book represents a passage that could be from our mountain range without any problem, something surprising. “That was exactly what I was trying to get from my audience. I wanted to paint an image for the cover of the book, which would make readers want to pick up the book and ask: Why ...? "Says Leanne, who is also the illustrator of the book." I created the story and drew thirty illustrations, hoping to support our multicultural differences, here in the United States and abroad, ”he says.
 The cover of The Lion of Tupungato
About her story, she clarifies that she knows “that there are no lions in his area. Therefore, I was very excited to find an old article about an airplane accident in Argentina. By lightly touching a real event, a path was created for this Asian lion to end up in the snowy hills of the Andes.” "The lion of Tupungato" "is full of life lessons and family values," It says the book on its cover. Leanne adds that "the mysterious piece of unsolved evidence that led to what might have caused the accident, gave this fantasy story some enthusiasm." Although the book is written in English, the author does not miss the fortuitous fact that the story of a lion takes place in a place whose name contains the word "cat." For gato, as in TupunGATO, means cat in Spanish.
One of the most important lessons in history is against bullying. “At one point in history, an American boy is rude to this young Argentine. The lion helps her through this and many other problems,” says Leanne. The antibullying message is explicit. Once the story ends, there is a section that says: “Throughout history, throughout the world, the problems of discrimination and inequality have been tolerated. Hopefully, bullying and other irregularities and injustices are being addressed through education, which leads us to a greater understanding of equality for all people. "

Leanne Benson, la escritora que soñó a un león africano en Mendoza

En charla con MDZ, la norteamericana autora de "El león de Tupungato" contó cómo le surgió la curiosa idea de un león africano en Mendoza, y qué mensaje hay detrás de su libro.

lunes, 29 de abril de 2019 · 09:52

Leanne Benson no conoce Argentina. “Lo más cerca que he estado es cuando visité a mi hija en Guatemala”, reconoce. La autora norteamericana del libro infantil “El león de Tupungato” no oculta este dato cuando habla con MDZ acerca de su novela, pero tampoco cree que haya sido necesario para contar una historia que sucede en Mendoza.

“He disfrutado viajando a África, India y muchos países europeos. Sin embargo, lo más cerca que he estado de Argentina fue cuando viajé a Guatemala para visitar a mi hija, mientras ella estuvo tres años en el Cuerpo de Paz”, cuenta Leanne. En su relato, un león africano sobrevive a un accidente aéreo y es adoptado por una joven en Tupungato. “Esta historia de una familia argentina, que años más tarde emigró a los EEUU, Fue una manera de atraer a los jóvenes lectores a aprender más sobre el mundo”, resume la autora.

Mas sobre este tema


La historia de un león africano que sobrevivió tras estrellarse un avión en Tupungato

A pesar de que los datos duros son poco importantes en una historia para niños, Leanne se tomó la molestia de intentar que la provincia fuera representada de la manera más fidedigna posible. “Tuve la suerte de encontrar a una joven argentina viviendo en mi área. Ella tuvo la amabilidad de comprobar si había grandes discrepancias o información errónea sobre su país antes de que se imprimiera esta historia”, relata. “En un momento incluso contactó a su madre en Argentina para pedirle consejo. Sabiendo que esto era una historia ficticia para niños, no nos preocupamos por los detalles exactos”, agrega.

A pesar de no conocer Mendoza y sus montañas, en la portada del libro se representa un pasaje que podría ser de nuestra cordillera sin ningún problema, algo que sorprende. “Eso fue exactamente lo que estaba tratando de obtener de mi audiencia. Quería pintar una imagen para la portada del libro, lo que haría que los lectores quisieran levantar el libro y preguntar: ¿Por qué ...?", puntualiza Leanne, quien también es la ilustradora del libro. “Creé la historia y dibujé treinta ilustraciones, con la esperanza de apoyar nuestras diferencias multiculturales, aquí en Los Estados Unidos y el extranjero”, señala.

La portada de El León de Tupungato

Sobre su historia, aclara que sabe “que no hay leones en su área. Por eso, me emocionó mucho encontrar un viejo artículo de un accidente aéreo en Argentina. Al tocar ligeramente un hecho real, se creó un camino para que este león asiático terminara en las colinas nevadas de los Andes”. “El león de Tupungato” “está lleno de lecciones de vida y valores familiares”, indica el libro en su portada. Leanne agrega que “la misteriosa pieza de evidencia sin resolver que condujo a lo que pudo haber causado el accidente, le dio cierto entusiasmo a esta historia de fantasía”. Si bien el libro está escrito en inglés, a la autora no se le escapa el fortuito hecho de que la historia de un león transcurra en un lugar cuyo nombre contiene la palabra “gato”.

Una de las lecciones más importantes de la historia es contra el bullying. “En un momento de la historia, un niño estadounidense es grosero con esta joven argentina. El león la ayuda a través de este y muchos otros problemas”, cuenta Leanne. El mensaje antibullying es explícito. Una vez que termina la historia, hay un apartado que dice: “En todo el mundo, a lo largo de la historia, se han tolerado los problemas de discriminación y desigualdad. Con suerte, el acoso escolar y otras irregularidades e injusticias se están abordando a través de la educación, lo que nos lleva a una mayor comprensión de la igualdad para todas las personas ".