By Kevin Hodgson
Rudyard Kipling’s Just So stories have long held a hallowed place in literature in lower elementary classrooms. The stories of how animals came to be often give way to students’ own creative explanations of the world. A new series of graphic versions of the Kipling classics by Stone Arch Press revives that tradition in wonderful style, full of humor and insights.
HOW THE LEOPARD GOT HIS SPOTS is just one of the series, and this adaptation by writer Sean Tulien tells the story of the leopard on the African plains, and seeks to explain in a creative way how those distinctive spots came to be on its fur. A funny twist is how the animals talk back to the narrator of the story, showing a little sass at the direction of the story, particularly when the prey gets to escape. HOW THE LEOPARD GOT HIS SPOTS is nicely done, and as engaging (if not more so) than other Just So stories out on the market.
The illustrations by artist Pedro Rodriquez are vibrant, and full of energy, and bring to life the personalities of the creatures in this book. There’s a careful craftsmanship to the illustrations that perfectly complements the Kipling story.
IN THE CLASSROOM
As I mentioned, the Kipling stories are often a central part of many elementary classroom curriculums, and this graphic novel –– along with the others in the series –– would fit nicely into those collections. The graphic telling of the story is a nice complement to the many picture books and chapter books out there. There is also a nice biography of Kipling at the end of the book and some fascinating illustrations at the start and end of the animal habitats used as the setting for the story.
Publisher: Stone Arch Books
I would highly recommend this book for any elementary level classroom. It’s a fun and engaging retelling of a classic story.