How the Leopard got his Spots

Kipling centers his story round the adaptive advantages of camouflage and the saying (from Jeremiah 13:23) “Can a leopard change his spots, or an Ethiopian his skin?”

There is less word-play in this story than e.g. in the Whale story and also less spectacular fireworks in the plot than e.g. the Elephant’s Child, nevertheless it does encourage children to consider the advantages of camouflage in the animal world (which I have tried to encourage by the video accompanying the words) and some games with sound and meaning as well as wry humour to keep adults interested.

US viewers should be warned that Kipling uses the worst form of “the N word”. It would not have been considered as derogatory in his day, and as recently as the 1930 intellectuals from French speaking Africa were advocating a sense of NĂ©gritude as a way of combating French colonialism – this approach still spoken of positively by people in the Congo in the 1980s.

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Read aloud: audio and video