Tuesday, 23 August 2011

The Leopard Boy by Julia Johnson (Children's, 7 years +, 8/10E)

4th August, Frances Lincoln
96 pages, Paperback
Review copy 

Children's, 7 years + 

Themes: mountain life, conservation, greed, deception, unexpected help, cruelty, kind hearts, a tissue needed

Summary from Frances Lincoln
Khalid spends his days looking after his uncle's goats. One day he follows the goats higher up the mountain than he has ever been before, only to discover that one of the kids is missing. But he does stumble upon the home of an old man who tells him about the danger faced by the last of the loepards. When Khalid gets home, his uncle angrily sets a trap for the creature he is sure has killed the lost goat. In the following days, Khalid and the old man discover signs of a leopard and determined to save it from Khalid's uncle. Then Khalid learns that his uncle plans to allow a mining company to destroy the mountain and the last thing he needs is to be foiled by the presence of an endangered and protected animal. 

Nayuleska's reasons for loving Khalid...he cares for and respects the area he lives in, and treats his mother in a similar way. He knows right from wrong and tries to safeguard animals from his uncle's cruelty. 

Is there another character who deserves a mention? Khalid's mother leads a trapped life. She has a strong bond with Khalid and uses her intelligence to sneak her son out without permission of Khalid's uncle who looks after her now her husband isn't around. 

How evil/nasty is the enemy? All Khalid's uncle sees are money symbols in front of his eyes. He is the the total opposite of Khalid. 

Are there plenty of plot twists and surprises? I had butterflies for a few of the parts where Khalid was in danger, and smiled when justice was served. 

What style are the illustrations? Pen and ink, which works well with the feel of the story.

One of my favourite parts was...when the leopard cub was spotted because the illustration is adorable! It's cute and fluffy. Equally nice was when Khalid's mother gave him extra provisions because it shows the love between them. 

Available from bookstores including NRC affiliate Foyles.

Suggested read 
If you're looking for the harsh realities of life, try First Girl by Gloria Whelan which looks at what happens when a second child - a girl, no less - is born in China. 

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