The New York Times Book Review
How the Leopard Got His Clawsby Chinua Achebe, John Iroaganachi, Adrienne Kennaway, John Iroaganachi
Recounts how the leopard got his claws and teeth and why he rules the forest with terror.
The New York Times Book Review
When the dog's coup deposed King Leopard, the former ruler of the animal world exiled himself, returning with claws and sharp teeth of his own to govern by terror instead of with his previous gentle kindness.
This literary fable by the internationally eminent Achebe (based on a story by Iroaganachi and including a poem by Christopher Okigbo, killed in Nigeria's civil war), reflects the secession and return of Biafra in the late 1960s. First published here in 1972, it has been beautifully re-illustrated by GrandPré, famed for her Harry Potter covers. These lush acrylic paintings have both texture and depth. Presented full-bleed across two pages or in rough rectangles set on white space, with bits extending beyond the edges, they tend to be dark and crowded with animals, whose expressive faces and bodies support the action. Each spread includes a decorative band of sharp triangles, a tooth-and-claw motif. Halfway through the story, the dog and not-yet-armed King fight fiercely, each glowing with orange battle heat. The conclusion explains the harshness of the jungle and the bond between dog and man, a satisfying ending for young readers unlikely to know or be ready for the political background.
Whether read as a fable with African roots or as an allegory, this is a handsome treatment of a memorable tale. (Picture book. 7-14)
- East African Educational Publishers
- Publication date:
- Product dimensions:
- 60.00(w) x 80.00(h) x 2.50(d)
- Age Range:
- 7 - 11 Years
Meet the Author
Chinua Achebe was born in Nigeria in 1930. An early career in radio ended abruptly in the national upheaval that led to the Biafran war, during which Achebe joined the Biafran Ministry of Information and represented Biafra on various diplomatic missions. In 1971, while also serving as editor of the Heinemann African Writers series, he helped to found the immensely influential literary magazine Okike. Achebe is now the David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and Professor of African Studies at Brown University. He has lectured widely, receiving many honors from around the world, including the Honorary Fellowship of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, and honorary doctorates from more than thirty institutions. He is the recipient of Nigeria's highest award for intellectual achievement, the Nigerian National Merit Award. In 2007, he won the Man Booker International Prize for Fiction. He was also awarded the 2010 Dorothy and Lillian Gish Prize, which recognizes cultural figures for having "an unprecedented impact in their chosen fields."
Mary GrandPré is perhaps best known for her jacket illustrations for the U.S. editions of the Harry Potter series. The illustrator of Phyllis Root's LUCIA AND THE LIGHT and numerous other picture books, she also worked on scenery development for the animated film ANTZ and has done illustrations for top editorial and advertising clients. She lives in Sarasota, Florida.
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