Spirit of the Cheetah


Disclosure: I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Did you know the first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970? Earth Day is 51 years old this year. It was started to make people aware of the devastation to Earth that pollution, technology and more were causing. One great worry was the deforestation and extinction of wildlife. (Source) With that concern I am sharing today's picture book as an Earth Day resource. The book shares a tale that is set in Somali and shares a bit about the endangered cheetahs. The book is Spirit of the Cheetah: A Somali Tale by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed and illustrated by Julia Cairns. 

The book starts with the authors' notes. Karen shares a bit about the Somali language and the cheetahs including how they are different from leopards, and Khadra shares her experience growing up away from her ancestry country due to the war and danger there but how she dreams of going there. This tale is written with her family history in mind. 

The book is about a young Somali boy, Roblay, who is trying to place in the top three of the annual big race. The top three runners are declared men. Roblay is practicing and causing havoc with his running. His grandfather tells him about the cheetah and how to win the race you must leave your fingerprint on the cheetah. Roblay watches a cheetah and her cubs and runs with the cheetah on the other side of the river. He learns to run more like the cheetah with grace and speed. His grandfather tells Roblay that he became a man before running the next year's race because he learned to run like the cheetah.

At the end of the book are notes about cheetahs. The notes include things from the name cheetah to the history of the cheetah and humans as well as its place as vulnerable for endangerment in the wild. 

This book is perfect for so many different uses. It is a fun story with beautiful illustrations. It shares a bit about Somali and its culture. Of course there is also the introduction of the Shabelle River so a geography lesson could be included.  Reading the authors' notes the reader is introduced to the war torn country and the politics which of course could be expanded upon. Then there is the endangerment of the cheetah and the information about the beautiful animal. 

As I share this book I am thinking a race would be a fun way to share this book with the younger kids. The book is recommended for ages 4 to 8. And of course a cheetah craft or two (round-up coming soon). And of course adopting a cheetah through WWF.  

1) From Fun Handprint Art: Handprint Cheetah

2) From Artsy Momma: Recycle K Cup Cheetah

3) My Paper Cheetah

I decided to make a paper cheetah. Now I am going to tell you how I did it but also suggest changes depending on who you are making it with. My 12-year-old is not really interested in such crafts anymore. First I found a free cheetah silhouette I liked. The one I used is here. I do not have a Cricut or such machine but it would be much easier to use one to cut the shape. I printed it out and cut it by hand onto yellow cardstock. Now if you have a class of pre-K through 1st grade you may want to make a large cheetah cut out for the whole class and have kids use thumbprints to make spots. The book talks about leaving your thumbprint on the cheetah.

For this craft you will need the cheetah silhouette, scissors or a way to cut the shape, yellow cardstock, black ink or paint, fingers, back of paint brush or cotton swab to make dots. 

Since I don't have small fingers to use I used a cotton swab to paint on the spots of the cheetah. I also used black paint but if using thumbprints or fingerprints you may want ink. At this point I would consider adding an eye (googly or drawn) and putting my cheetah on top of a background, perhaps have kids paint backgrounds for the cheetah to go on. I am quite happy with my little cheetah. I feel she captures the spirit of the book!