Review by Ekaterina Shatalova
Leoparda («Леопарда») by Natalia Shaloshvili
Published by Polyandria, 2021
Recommended age: 6+
Meet Leoparda – a forest bus driver who enjoys sleeping in a tree during the night and driving other animals around during the day. Her bus is very popular with animals and always packed to the brim. Then one day a little black car overtakes the bus, leaving the animals inside in awe. After that day, all the animals gradually start switching to their own personal cars until there is no one for Leoparda to drive around in her empty bus.
With more and more cars there is no space left, so the animals decide to chop down trees, including Leoparda’s favourite tree. In the meantime, frustrated animals are stuck in traffic jams, coughing and shouting at each other. They are no longer excited about this whole car idea. Luckily, Leoparda comes up with a solution how to make the roads clean again and keep everyone’s personal transport: she introduces bicycles to the animals, and now everyone is happy again.
This charming picture book combines the usual themes of friendship and compassion with an important environmental message reminding us that new technologies are not always better. Shaloshvili’s minimalistic and slightly chaotic illustrations paradoxically enough create the feeling of harmony and unitedness. Using watercolour pencils and acrylic, she invents charismatic and amusing characters for readers of all ages to fall in love with.
About the author
An architect by education, Natalia Shaloshvili (Наталья Шалошвили) started her career as a fashion illustrator and is now a highly sought-after children’s book illustrator. Originally from Ukraine, and now resident in the UK, her work has been featured in numerous illustration festivals and contests (with a special mention award at Image of the Book International Illustration and Book Design Competition 2020). Leoparda is her debut book as both author and illustrator.
You’ll find more information about the book and author (in Russian) on the website of the publisher, Polyandria (where you can flick through the first 10 pages), and at Labirint.ru. You can see more of Natalia Shaloshvili’s art work on Instagram and her online store.