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‘We need the literature of other countries to expand our
horizons and stimulate our ideas. Without it, we are not only
diminished, we are starved’
(The Times, Magnus Linklater 29/06/05)
Pointless Leopard (The)
by Colos Gutman
Age Range: 9-11
Young narrator Leonard doesn’t like the country. “It’s ugly, it’s green and it’s boring”. Leonard much prefers to walk on benches, go to the cinema and run after pigeons but in the country there is nothing to do, except admire the scenery. “It’s the same as being bored, but with your eyes wide open” he declares disdainfully.
One day, while Leonard is out walking he encounters a sheep, a cow and a chicken. A hilarious conversation ensues. ‘“Excuse me, but what are you?” asks Sheep. “I’m not an animal” replied Leonard. “I am Leonard”. “Is it like a leopard?” asks Sheep’.
When Sheep asks what Leonard is for he becomes even more confused. “I don’t think I am for anything”. Sheep starts to laugh which attracts the attention of Cow. “What’s that”? Asks Cow. “It’s a sort of pointless leopard”, replies Sheep. After all, they have a use – Sheep provides wool, Cow provides milk and Hen provides eggs but what kind of animal is a child and does it have any use at all?
Leonard tries hard to explain. “A child’s not a can opener or a hair dryer, and not a pack of crisps either …. A child goes with parents. A bit like batteries and a remote-controlled car”. Even when the greedy wolf appears he isn’t interested in Leonard because he is completely polluted. “He smells like exhaust fumes and genetically-modified chicken”.
The Pointless Leopard is an absolute delight. A popular prize-winning hit in France it has sold more than 132,000 copies and is on the recommended reading for 6-7 year-olds. French author, Colas Gutman has created a quirky, tongue-in-cheek tale that is both funny and philosophical as it poses a vitally important question: what exactly are children for? The witty repartee between Leonard and his animal acquaintances together with the off-beat humour is bound to strike a chord with children and adults alike. The charming child-like black and blue pen-and-ink illustrations by Delphine Perret have simplicity but also convey so much expression which only enhances its appeal.