My oldest daughter is approaching her tween years and parenting is taking a turn. The challenges she faces at school and with her own emotions are not for the faint of heart! Almost daily she comes home with some sort of new drama she is trying to decipher all the while attempting to figure out who she is amongst her peers. Though it can sometimes make parenting difficult, I empathize with her position. Being a kid is hard!
If you are looking for an engaging read for your elementary-aged reader that will also help them face some of the challenges they are experiencing, we have a wonderful resource for you! Bill Myers’ book, The Magnificent Mulligans: Leapin’ Leopards is a fun, fast-paced childrens book about family that is full of heart, funny moments, and quality lessons.
The Magnificent Mulligans make up a big diverse family who run an animal park. The story follows all the different members of their family over the course of just one day. It may seem anticlimactic for a book to take place over just one day, however, a lot of exciting things can happen in a day when you have such a big family living with hundreds of animals. For example, a baby giraffe is born in the park as one of the recently adopted kids, a boy from Bogota, Columbia, is left to oversee the whole process. The act of helping the newborn giraffe shifts Hector’s perspective on taking care of the weak and vulnerable.
While the giraffe is being born, the other family members are dealing with their own set of troubles. The twins get caught up in some middle-school friendship drama, dad is away bringing home a newly adopted baby, and to top it all off a leopard escapes from the park! These adventures have you turning page after page to see what will happen next.
LEAPIN’ LEOPARDS PROVIDES MANY ENGAGING DETAILS FOR YOUNG READERS
Jumps From Story to Story
Leapin’ Leopards is filled with engaging details that will keep any reader interested throughout the whole book, particularly younger readers. The story jumps around between different members of the Mulligan family so you can keep tabs on their individual adventures. This can be especially exciting for young readers. It creates easy stopping points throughout the book rather than having large chapters that feel endless. Kids can easily read a whole chapter of course, but they can also quickly read a few sections when they have a shorter reading time without feeling disconnected from the overall story.
Fun Sound Effects
Kids absolutely love sound effects—they make everything more interesting! In this case, they really bring the book to life. On almost every page there are sound effects written in bold letters. Young readers will love reading the different sounds—and they provide additional read-aloud entertainment!
You don’t find out who is narrating the story until you are well into the book, and that is with good reason. The book starts by leading the reader to assume it is one of the kids telling the story. It is quite a surprise when it is revealed that the narrator is actually a chimpanzee! An animal narrator for a kids’ book is the perfect way to keep children engaged in a story.
Lisa, one of the Mulligan kids, favorite animal in the park is Freda the leopard. Her older brother, Nick has the job of checking all of the cages at night to ensure they are locked. Unfortunately, he can be fairly forgetful and didn’t check the leopard’s pen. How will they get the wild leopard back to the animal park? The mayor wants to tranquilize it, and the citizens of the town are scared, but Lisa is confident she can get her favorite animal pal back to safety on her own.
HIGHLIGHTS A DIVERSE SET OF CHARACTERS
The Magnificent Mulligans include children from all different backgrounds. Hector is from Columbia, Stephie is neuro-diverse, Lisa is blind, and Janelle and Jessica are twins with quirky personalities. The family having kids with such unique experiences gives the reader a peek into what life would be like for people that are different from them. Kids learn empathy, acceptance, and love for others. Representation of people from different cultures, abilities, and experiences is paramount in helping us all love anyone we come in contact with each day. The Mulligan family loves each other so well and your kids will love them too!
IMPORTANT LIFE LESSONS
There are so many important lessons covered in this fun children’s book about family—your kiddo will be learning things without even realizing they are soaking it in! Forgiveness, caring well for your siblings, and doing hard things are just a few of the mighty lessons packed in this 125-page book. I especially appreciated the sisters who had to work through friend drama and discover what it is like to be true to yourself when you are feeling pressured by others. Every kid deals with this throughout their life, making the characters relatable and inspiring. I am certain my kiddos will get something different out of the story every time they pick it up.
IT’S A VERSATILE BOOK AS WELL!
Leapin’ Leopards can be effectively used in a number of different ways! Any elementary-aged child would enjoy reading it independently and parents can feel confident their children are reading wholesome, quality content on their own. It would also make the perfect family read-aloud book. Read a chapter or two every night before bed or while you are sitting around the dinner table. The whole family would enjoy following along with the Magnificent Mulligans.
You may even consider helping your child start a book club with his or her friends where they read it separately and get together to discuss the book. As an added bonus, in the back of the book, you’ll find thoughts and questions to help get the conversation going!
No matter how your family chooses to read the first book of The Magnificent Mulligans series, Leapin’ Leopards, you will be pleased you did. And once you do, your kids will anxiously await the release of the second book so they can continue following along with this charming family’s adventures.
As an author and filmmaker, Bill Myers has won 70 national and international awards, including the C. S. Lewis Honor Award. His books and videos have sold over 8 million copies.
He co-created the popular “McGee and Me” series; wrote, directed, and starred in several “Adventures in Odyssey” episodes; and is the voice of Jesus in the NIV Audio Bible. He lives in southern California with his wife.
See more from Bill Myers on his website!