The Leopard Behind the Moon (Hardcover)
“A beautifully rendered coming-of-age story.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
No one knows what lies beyond the magical village door, but Ezomo is determined to find out. Mayonn Paasewe-Valchev’s debut is an unforgettable coming-of-age story about friendship, family, and long-standing traditions. The power of storytelling comes to life in this novel perfect for fans of Erin Entrada Kelly, Tracey Baptiste, and Tae Keller.
There are three important laws in Ezomo’s village: Do not go to The Valley, do not go out at night, and never, ever, ever open the magical door that protects them all. But when Ezomo encounters the leopard believed to have killed his father, he and his two best friends embark on a journey that leads them past the boundaries set by their elders.
With his friends by his side, Ezomo chases after the leopard, certain that it has the power to cure all. But in the process, he discovers the truth about his village. And that cautionary tales exist for a reason.
Mayonn Paasewe-Valchev’s debut novel balances a gripping adventure with themes of friendship, community, identity, grief, and resilience. Poignant and memorable, Ezomo’s story will appeal to fantasy lovers and readers of Grace Lin and Kelly Barnhill.
Mayonn Paasewe-Valchev was born in Liberia, where she was exposed to a culture of oral storytelling at a young age. She lived in the Netherlands for several years, where she learned to stuff her klompen (wooden shoes) with carrots and developed a love for reading stories—especially tales written by Roald Dahl and Astrid Lindgren. She is the author of The Leopard Behind the Moon and a junior novel retelling of Marvel’s Black Panther. She lives in Washington, DC, with her family.
“A boy and his best friends embark on a pilgrimage that delivers bittersweet life lessons in a richly rendered, West African–inspired world. . . . Paasewe-Valchev’s prose is captivating, smooth, and poetic in its delivery of this fresh and layered narrative. With well-timed, fluid pacing, this novel masterfully deals with themes of friendship, family, loss, and hope. Readers will be engrossed from start to finish. A beautifully rendered coming-of-age story.” — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“[A] wondrous tale of the village of Sesa, the unusual boy who lives there—and magic enough to change them both. . . . Combining adventure, cautionary tale, and folklore, the narrative includes many side stories and intertwined histories. . . . Making use of many characteristics found in West African oral traditions (call and response, repetition, proverbs, etc.), this tale is a joy to read both silently and aloud.” — Horn Book Magazine