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Spirit of the Cheetah: A Somali Tale
“Spirit of the Cheetah : A Somali Tale” — book description, reviews, author bio, more
Spirit of the Cheetah: A Somali Tale
Spirit of the Cheetah: A Somali Tale
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Author(s): 
Subjects(s): 
Children’s Books

Price:  $16.95

ISBN:  978-1-937786-85-4
Book Size:  10" × 9"
# of Pages:  40
Language:  English



Description: “Spirit of the Cheetah”

Young Roblay runs through his Somali village practicing for the big race, where only the fastest runners will be declared men. He turns for advice to his grandfather, who tells Roblay of the mighty Shabelle River, which is strong and swift like a cheetah. Roblay must capture that spirit if he is to finish among the winners of the race and become a man. This coming-of-age tale was written by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed, and illustrated by Julia Cairns (available January 2021).

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Details on “Spirit of the Cheetah”

Young Roblay runs through his Somali village practicing for the big race, where only the fastest runners will be declared men. He turns for advice to his grandfather, who tells Roblay of the mighty Shabelle River, which is strong and swift like a cheetah. Roblay must capture that spirit if he is to finish among the winners of the race and become a man. This coming-of-age tale was written by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed, and illustrated by Julia Cairns (available January 2021).

Inspired by her father’s storytelling, Khadra Mohammed joins Karen Lynn Williams in retelling this Somali coming-of-age tale, beautifully illustrated by artist Julia Cairns. The story of a proud people who once lived together peacefully and drew wisdom from the animals, it is sure to generate enthusiastic discussion in the classroom. An appendix provides further information on the cheetah—the fastest land animal on earth and now an endangered species.

Karen Lynn Williams is a teacher, writing instructor, and award-winning children’s book author who has published over 15 books for children. Karen has lived and worked in Malawi and Haiti and has been an instructor in writing programs at Seton Hill University, Chatham University, and the Institute for Children’s Literature. She is the author of Galimoto, Tap-Tap, and Circles of Hope. Karen lives with her husband in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Khadra Mohammed was executive director of the Pittsburgh Refugee Center from 2003 to 2015. She is Somali, grew up in the UAE, and has worked with refugees and immigrants in the U.S. and in refugee camps around the world for more than thirty years. She and Karen Lynn Williams previously collaborated on the acclaimed Four Feet, Two Sandals and My Name is Sangoel. She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Julia Cairns is a fine artist and illustrator known for her colorful images and joyous, whimsical style. She has illustrated 11 books for children, including the award-winning We All Went on Safari, Mama Panya’s Pancakes, and A Full Moon is Rising. Julia’s work can be found in collections around the world and has been featured on many products from calendars to fabric. She lives with her husband in Galisteo, New Mexico.



The Authors and Illustrator of this Book

Karen Lynn Williams

Karen Lynn Williams is a teacher, writing instructor, and award-winning children’s book author. She has been writing for 35 years and has published over 15 books for children. Karen has lived and worked in Malawi and Haiti and has been an instructor in writing programs at Seton Hill University and Chatham University and the Institute for Children’s Literature. She is the author of Galimoto, Tap-Tap, and Circles of Hope. Karen lives with her husband in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

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Khadra Mohammed

Khadra Mohammed is the co-author, along with Karen Lynn Williams, of Spirit of the Cheetah: A Somali Tale (January 2021). Julia Cairns contributed the delicate and vibrant illustrations. The book is a Somali coming-of-age tale about a boy who needs to win a race but who must first discover how to capture the spirit of that fastest running animal on the planet, the cheetah, in order to accomplish his goal.


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Julia Cairns

Julia Cairns is a full-time fine artist and illustrator known for her colorful images and her joyous, whimsical style. In addition to creating illustrations for children’s books, Julia has exhibited her fine art in numerous shows and galleries. Ms. Cairns provided the distinctive illustrations for Spirit of the Cheetah: A Somali Tale (January 2021), written by Karen Lynn Williams and Khadra Mohammed. It is a Somali coming-of-age tale about a boy who needs to win a race but who must first discover how to capture the spirit of that fastest running animal on the planet in order to accomplish his goal.


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Reviews of “Spirit of the Cheetah: A Somali Tale”

“Mohammed and Williams (Four Feet, Two Sandals, illustrated by Doug Chayka, 2007) team up again to tell a tale of a boy in Somalia who draws on tradition to excel.… Roblay’s personal goal, his supportive family, and his rich cultural tradition weave together in a lovely story of determination and perseverance. Cairns’ illustrations use delicate strokes to depict vast, green natural landscapes, simple homes, and dignified people who respect the local wildlife. Readers will delight in the suspense and satisfaction that build and bind this layered tale. Another successful collaboration that will win minds and hearts. (cheetah facts) (Picture book. 3-8)
— from a review in Kirkus Reviews



Spirit of the Cheetah: A Somali Tale is especially and unreservedly recommended for family, daycare center, preschool, elementary school, and community library picture book Folktale collections.”
— from a review in Children's Bookwatch, The Folktale/Fairytale Shelf, an online publication



“… a Somali coming-of-age story, exuberantly illustrated by Julia Cairns, whose ten years spent in Botswana have given her deep appreciation for the resilience and fortitude of the people of Africa.… Spirit of the Cheetah — written for ages four to eight — serves not only as a story of becoming a man, but also as inspiration for any young wildlife enthusiasts who might someday join the fight to save vulnerable species.”
— from a review in Spirituality & Practice, an online publication



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