|The Snow Leopard (Mini Edition) by Jackie Morris|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: Another pointedly tiny reprint of Jackie Morris' grand artwork, this time with a fable of a spirit guardian to a mountain valley and the child within.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 32||Date: October 2014|
|Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books|
You probably haven't heard of Mergichans – although if you pronounce it correctly in your head, in connection with spirits and magic, you will work out what they are. One of them is the totem, if you like, of a hidden Himalayan valley, and she is in the form of a snow leopard, singing existence as she sees fit and protecting the Shangri-La type location. But she cannot protect it from all-comers, least of all when she's trying to sing to find a successor. Mergichans do not have it all their own way…
This wee book is a lovely little charmer. Over a dozen double spreads we get the whole short story that makes the book – one that should be easily read by someone with a parent or guardian at their shoulder just in case, yet one that has the power to drip feed understanding and artistry into the oldest of audiences. Lots of that comes from the timeless style – not trying to be overtly poetic, not giving us anything fanciful, just quiet, plain narrative of extraordinary beings.
And there is a fable element to it all, too – the snow leopard being the birth of all life and the guardian of all secrecy in the hidden valley. The book is not just a celebration of the rare big cat, it has many sides to it – when the song changes, to one of succession, the seasons seem to retract in the artwork and the valley is opened up to the invaders, as if the snow leopard has forgotten the importance of the snow in her name. The book is in support of the beast and if we lose the snow we will lose them, no matter what else happens. But it also has a strong female character – the girl, richly wrapped in fabrics that allow Morris to garland her pages with textures, colours and depth just as does the leopard's pelt.
Finally, though, I'll return to my second paragraph and those words about this being wee and little. Those pages are very small indeed – where this deserves to shout its power out with the artistry of the creator, this very pocketable (in all senses of the word) item really does feel stifled and stymied by its size. It appears to be set in the smallest font imaginable for children's books, and one much smaller than they would generally be used to outside the contents box of cereal packets. Thus the book is made more of a gift item for fans of big cats and lovely nature to swap now and again, when the book had the power to last on a shelf and never be exchanged at all.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Snow Leopard (Mini Edition) by Jackie Morris at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Snow Leopard (Mini Edition) by Jackie Morris at Amazon.com.
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