THE LEOPARD by Cecil Bodker


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Danish author Cecil Bodker wrote this originally for East African children. Thus the Ethiopian village background is taken for granted and the boy shepherd Tibeso is free to plunge immediately into an adventure -- a leopard hunt in which he soon becomes the hunted when he is naive enough to identify a cattle thief and murderer to his face. Tibeso keeps one step ahead of this murdering blacksmith by a combination of manly courage and boyish tricks. Some of his stratagems, like leaving a clay pot-and-straw dummy of himself on the roof while he escapes into the night, work with folk tale efficiency and though Tibeso, dressed as a girl, eventually joins forces with a band of Arab traders who are also pursuing the blacksmith, his enemy is eventually finished off by the big leopard, forgotten since the first chapter, which reappears symbolically to wreak justice. At times Tibeso's inability, or unwillingness, to get help from adults is more frightening than the blacksmith himself (though of course trusting a grownup was what got him into trouble in the first place). But even when his isolation seems more foreign than the ghost villages, straw houses and donkey caravans, it keeps the reader eager for the next stage of the chase.

Pub Date: March 12th, 1975
Page count: 186pp
Publisher: Atheneum