Mwenye Hadithi and Adrienne Kennaway
Hodder Children’s Books
In this neo-pourquoi tale set on the plains of Africa, we learn how sleep-loving Cheetah, once a plain old sandy colour, got her spots and became the fastest of all the animals.
It all begins with a crash of thunder, a flash of lightning and a cry from little Vervet Monkeys calling, “Wake up, Sleepy Cheetah! Wake up!” But Cheetah’s only response is to open one of her sleepy eyes and continue dozing. As the other animals make a dash towards the rushing river, the monkeys move closer to Cheetah, once more urging her, “Wake up, Sleepy Cheetah! We can see Fire! Wake up and run!” and then bouncing with their black sooty paws all over her sandy back,
tummy and tail while repeating their wake up and run cries. But all Cheetah does is to roll over and go back to sleep.
The dash past her continues with each passing animal urging the sleepy creature to “Run!” all to no avail until suddenly Cheetah feels a tingle in her tail as it begins to heat up. And that’s when she starts to move, slowly at first but then faster and faster …
till she’s ‘racing like the wind’ away from the fire and urging the others to speed up as she outstrips them in her frantic dash to the water’s edge. So fast does she run that tears stream down streaking her face, but still on she runs pausing briefly to allow the Vervet Monkeys to hop up onto her back before taking an enormous leap across the water to land safe and sound on the opposite bank.
It’s then that Cheetah becomes aware of her striking new look for as she glances down at her reflection what she sees is a beautiful spotty coat and tear tracks down her face.
Moreover, from that day to this Cheetah has been the fastest animal on four legs.
Gorgeous watercolour visuals and a pacey text keep listeners entranced as they follow Cheetah’s transformation from somnolent creature to graceful speedster.