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The Midnight Panther

Authored by Poonam Mistry
Illustrated by Poonam Mistry
Published by Templar Publishing

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The Midnight Panther is a beautifully illustrated picture book which has themes of identity and self-discovery. It is about a little black panther exploring the rainforest as he tries to find out who he really is.

Panther is unsure of his place in the forest and feels inferior to the other big cats, Tiger, Lion and Leopard. They intimidate and taunt the little Panther and so he sets out to find out who he really is. He wants to be just like them. He begins by imitating the other cats but each time he does so, the weather steps in to dissuade him and show him that he doesn’t need to emulate the others but encourages him to find out what makes him special. Panther then becomes enchanted by the moon and this allows him to face up to his fears. His courage grows and he embraces the night sky and himself within it. He is then able to realise who he is and his confidence and self-belief are restored.

The stunning illustrations in this book start on the cover and engage the reader from the outset. The book is alluring and its illustrations are decadent and bold. The intricate details entice the reader to spend time looking at each individual spread. The use of tone and colour convey mood and atmosphere, whilst the use of weather to convey emotions is effective and powerful. Nature also plays a pivotal role in allowing Panther to explore his identity and environment.

The Midnight Panther opens up discussions about being ourselves and not trying to be someone or something that we are not. I think this is particularly relevant for today’s children who are exposed to social media and constant imaging of influencers and advertisers. This book would be suitable for whole class reading and discussion in upper Key Stage 1 and in Key Stage 2.