The Girl Who Lost A Leopard by Nizrana Farook

The Girl Who Lost A Leopard and More

Do you ever find that there are some books that you keep seeing and you never quite get around to reading? The captivating cover continually calling to you like a siren. The Girl Who Stole and Elephant was one of those books, one of those covers.

I find it fascinating to know what the brief was to the illustrator when they begin a commission for a book cover. For The Girl Who Stole and Elephant it was:

“We’re thinking the girl riding the elephant for adventure with jungle foliage around and pretty water behind them/moon/stars. We’d like it to be in colour (no black) but still lovely atmospheric contrast.”

From just that you get the magnificent opulence that is the cover of The Girl Who Stole an Elephant. I love finding out bits of information like this about a book. The Association of Illustrators website is great for a little research, that’s where I got the quote above from.

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David Dean created this masterpiece for The Girl Who Stole an Elephant and has continued to illustrate the covers of Nizrana Farook’s next two titles The Boy Who Met A Whale and The Girl Who Lost a Leopard. All equally alluring and begging to be read.

I’m ashamed to admit that my first delve into the world of Nizrana Farook was the third book (they’re stand alone titles) The Girl Who Lost a Leopard. This has been an oversight on my part and one that I will be readily rectifying following this breathtaking read. Nizrana weaves her magic in her fictitious settings that are based on her birthplace Sri Lanka.

The Girl Who Lost a Leopard Synopsis

The Girl Who Lost a Leopard is set in a fictional village in Sri Lanka. It tells the tale of Selvi, a friendless, wildling who has a deep connection with Lokka the leopard. When Lokka’s freedom is threatened by poachers, Selvi fights. Initially, she doesn’t know who to trust but, with the help of some unlikely allies can she find a place in the world that’s safe for her and Lokka in this perilous page turner?

It’s a superb adventure story suitable for around 8/9 years+ although my daughter thoroughly enjoyed me reading bits to her and she’s 5. It’s 160 pages that you just can’t wait to turn and your emotions are totally wrapped up in the plight of Lokka and Selvi.

Nizrana Farook Weaving Magic

The way Nizrana writes is mesmerising. Her words are like silk that slip off the tongue filling your mind with most vivid imagery.

‘…there was Lokka, his spotted body nested languidly in his favourite tree as if he didn’t have a care in the world. The setting sun blazed through him, silhouetting him and his hanging tale.’

The language is rich and bold and makes you want to read more. Words such as fracas, undulating and trice are delightful and sure to expand the vocabulary of the reader. In just a couple of sentences Nizrana can captures so much of the feeling and sentiment of a character.

‘His gaze seemed to be probing her, as the amber irises and dark flicks on the outer edges of his eyes made him look both peaceful and mysterious.

Now you can see why I must go back and read The Girl Who Stole and Elephant and The Boy Who Met a Whale.

A Little Project?

One part of the book that my daughter loved was when Selvi goes to her mother to ask if there are any scraps of material that she could have to make a girl at school a new bag (hers had a hole in). This was such a lovely, sensitive moment seeing Selvi so eager to do something selfless for another. It would be a lovely encouragement to take up a creative project to be able to gift to a friend after reading the book.

Endangered Animals and Poaching Debate

The Girl Who Lost a Leopard is an incredible book for discussion around poaching. There’s a particular section in the book that be a brilliant starting point for debate:

“But I’m talking about one species. I’m not saying we should wipe them all out. I just think it’s fine to reduce their numbers. They’re pests.”

You could keep the discussion around leopards or you could look at other endangered animals around the world. Perhaps look at legalised culling and discuss children’s opinions on this topic that may be more closer to home.

Learning and Resources

Animals and plants that are native to Sri Lanka are mentioned frequently and had me searching my nature books to discover what that creature or plant looked looked like. If you’re wondering what a binara flower looks like head here.

There’s also lots of mentions of food from Sri Lanka too. Discovering things about other places through stories is one of my favourite ways to learn and often sends me off on a tangent researching to learn further.

Nizrana’s website has some resources for exploring The Girl Who Stole an Elephant that you can find here. You can listen to the first chapter of The Girl Who Stole an Elephant below or have a read yourself here.

Have a read of The Boy Who Met a Whale here.

The Girl Who Lost a Leopard Recommendation

The Girl Who Lost a Leopard is out in the UK on the 7th April 2022. Thank you to #NetGalley and #NosyCrow for the eARC. An incredible book that made it onto my latest top recommendations for middle grade reads.

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