The Last Leopard by Lauren St John

The Last Leopard

Written by Lauren St John
Part of the White Giraffe Series Series

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The Lovereading4Kids comment

Shortlisted for the Independent Booksellers' Book Prize 2010.

Saving the world’s rarest leopard is the mission for Martine and Ben in this latest African adventure about a young girl and the animals she loves and protects. Instead of spending the holiday riding her white giraffe as she’d expected, Martine is sent off to the Matobo Hills in Zimbabwe where she and Ben uncover a plot to destroy the leopard. The duo need all their courage and skill to save the leopard and to survive themselves in the latest in a series of thrilling stories set against a vivid background. If you’ve not read other African adventures written by Lauren St John then click here for more details.

The Lovereading comment:

Rich with the scents, sounds and intoxicating magic of Africa, join Martine, an English orphan and her greatest friend and ally, the white giraffe as they uncover a plot in which the fate of a magnificent leopard and the lost treasure of an African King is at stake. Their friendship faces its greatest test as they race against time to save the leopard as well as themselves. Lauren’s previous novels set in Africa include Dolphin Song and The White Giraffe.

The shortlisted titles for the 2010 Independent Booksellers' Award were:

Running Wild by Michael Morpurgo
Dog Loves Books by Louise Yates
Auslander by Paul Dowswell
Dogs by Emily Gravett
The Unfinished Angel by Sharon Creech
Henderson’s Boys: The Escape by Robert Muchamore
Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray
What’s for Dinner Mr Gum? by Andy Stanton
Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce
The Last Leopard by Lauren St John
Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick
The Silver Blade by Sally Gardner


The Last Leopard by Lauren St John

Martine is looking forward to the holidays and riding Jemmy, her white giraffe, until an accident sends her and Ben on a journey to the Matobo Hills wilderness in Zimbabwe. It is a lawless land, where nothing is as it seems. When they uncover a plot in which the fate of a magnificent leopard and the lost treasure of an African King are mysteriously linked, their friendship faces its greatest test. Far from home and the help of Grace and Tendai, and with Gwyn Thomas languishing, under false accusations, in jail, Martine and Ben must use every survival skill they possess. They'll come face to face with Griffin, Mercy, Mr Ratcliffe (known as Rat), Magnus the hornbill, and a witch doctor, not to mention Khan, the last leopard. They must decide who their friends are, and who are enemies, as they race against time to save the world's rarest leopard and each other.


‘St John’s refined prose and assertive young protagonists convey a profound regard for the beauty and magic of the vast African backdrop… a hugely enjoyable and gripping summer read for both girls and boys.’ The Bookseller

About the Author

Lauren St John

Lauren St John was our Guest Editor in August 2013 - you can see her book choices below.

Lauren St John was born in Gatooma, Rhodesia, now Kadoma, Zimbabwe. Aged 11 she and her family moved to Rainbow's End farm in Gadzema, which later became the subject of her memoir. After studying journalism, she relocated to England, where she was golf correspondent to The Sunday Times. She is the author of several books on sports and music, as well as the award-winning children's series The White Giraffe, Dolphin Song, The Last Leopard and The Elephant's Tale. Her latest book, One Dollar Horse, is published in March 2012.

Lauren St John has a fascinating life story and her captivating and haunting memoir about her childhood spent in rural Africa has been published. Rainbow's End captures the overwhelming beauty and extraordinary danger of life in the African bush and it's this life story that is the inspiration for many of her animal stories for children. This memoir is definitely not for children to read but we mention it here as parents of children reading Lauren's children's books may well like to read about this awe-inspiring author.

My Favourite Children’s Books by Lauren St John

For Love of a Horse by Patricia Leitch. Without doubt this is the book that inspired me most as a child. At the time I was living on a farm in Zimbabwe in Southern Africa and had a black horse called Morning Star and it seemed to me that the way I felt about him and Jinny Manders felt about the chestnut Arab mare she rescued from a circus in For Love of a Horse was identical. This series is just brilliant in every way. I’ve read each book at least five times and would happily do so again.

Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotsen. To me, Eva Ibbotsen is a genius. You can pick up any of her books – The Dragonfly Pool and One Boy and His Dog are also fantastic – and be guaranteed a good read. A warm, joyous book to be enjoyed by any generation.

Five Run Away Together by Enid Blyton. I think I read my first Famous Five novel when I was six and I was hooked from that moment on. Sure there are bits of that have dated and Enid Blyton is not the world’s greatest prose stylist. But decades on, the appeal of the Famous Five is as strong as ever. Impossible to resist.

The Black Stallion by Walter Farley. The ultimate wish fulfillment fantasy, later made into an award-winning film. I’ve read this book more times than I can count and it never loses it’s magic. The film is great too.

Ring of Bright Water by Gavin Maxwell. I read this book as a set book at school in Zimbabwe and it had a big impact on me. Gavin Maxwell’s beautifully written book about his life with otters on Scotland’s remote west coast has been called a ‘masterpiece’ and ‘one of the outstanding wildlife books of all time.’ Anyone who loves animals and nature would enjoy this special book. Ring of Bright Water was later made into an outstanding film starring Virginia McKenna and Bill Travers.

The Tiger who Came to Tea by Judith Kerr. I fell in love with the smiley, chubby tiger in Judith Kerr’s classic picturebook during one hot Zimbabwe summer when I had to read it four or five times a day to my niece. If it had been up to her I’d have read it even more frequently. Each time I got to the end, she pleaded for us to begin again. Pure genius.

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Book Info


224 pages
Interest Age: From 9


Lauren St John
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Orion Publishing Co

Publication date

28th May 2009




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