Jackie Morris’ work is characterised by powerful visualisations of links between the animal, human and mythological worlds, often as an illustrator of others’ texts (How the Whale became and other stories, The Snow Whale, Can You See a Little Bear?). The Snow Leopard joins her earlier book The Seal Children in combining her own story with vivid and beautiful full page paintings.
The story is set in the Himalayan Merghican realms, which in the beliefs of indigenous communities are the high peaks and pastures inhabited by supernatural female denizens. The rare, elusive and endangered snow leopard is one of the animals into which these beings can shape-shift. Morris’ story is simple but powerful. Her ancient but aging snow leopard is the guardian of the high places, including a remote community, which is attacked and looted by soldiers. The snow leopard rescues the community and adopts a child to whom she bequeaths her role. The story is told in a few poetic paragraphs set against visionary scenes in saturated colours. Commitment to the protection of the natural world is implicit in the story, and although some may find the lyrical tone a little cloying, it perfectly suits the creation of a new and appealing ecomyth.