Read by Danny Glover
Glover deftly lures us into the “stripy, speckly, patchy-blatchy shadows” of a mythical forest, where the giraffe and the zebra—once solid-colored sandy beasts-learn to elude the hungry leopard by taking on the “sprottled and spottled, dotted and splashed” tones that match the sunlight falling into the forest.
Ah, but the leopard and his Ethiopian hunting partner, not to be outwitted, also change colors. The Ethiopian turns ebony and helps dot the leopard’s golden coat with his own dark fingerprints.
Rudyard Kipling’s razzle-dazzle word play is read by Glover in an at-times-mottled Africanized dialect. He is backed by the hypnotic Ladysmith Black Mambazo, the South African singers brought to the U.S. by Paul Simon.
Lori Lohstoeter’s illustrations are brilliant: Her sun looks like a fat yellow grapefruit, the slippery-slidy shadows of the forest are a palette of indigos. Thus does this selection from Kipling’s Just So Stories become a just superb story.