Leonardo the Fierce Leopard
The only thing Leonardo wanted in the whole world was to roar.
Every day, after breakfast and his morning bath, Leonardo would wander through the jungle looking for smaller animals to scare with (what he hoped would be) a fierce roar.
This morning was no different. Leonardo left home hoping this would be the day he finally found his roar.
As Leonardo slinked through the trees, he came upon a tree sloth. He stealthily backed himself into a crouch—ready to leap and scare the sloth with a tremendous tree shaking roar.
Way down deep in his chest, Leonardo mustered a growl. He shimmied on his haunches, leapt through the air and opened his mouth to let out his loudest roar.
Instead of a fierce roar, however, Leonardo simply said, “rawr!” The sloth didn’t budge.
Determined, Leonardo snuck back to his perch, crouched, shimmied, and leapt again. This time, when he opened his mouth, out came a slightly louder, slightly fiercer, “rawr!” The sloth only yawned, stretched, and readjusted himself on the branch.
In frustration, Leonardo stomped his foot. He didn’t want to give up, but he felt discouraged. Staring in consternation at the sloth, Leonardo decided that perhaps the sloth was not the best candidate for practicing his roar. Shaking his head and once again, finding his fierce courage, Leonardo moved on to find a better victim.
Soon, Leonardo came upon a bright green tree snake. As with the sloth, Leonardo crouched down, peeking between the jungle leaves. He watched the snake. He practiced his shimmy. He exercised his jaw for the perfect roar. Then, he waited. The snake turned and slithered a few inches closer to Leonardo. Leonardo felt that this was the moment to pounce. He charged from his hiding spot, leapt through the air and landed right in front of the snake. He swiveled his head and opened his mouth for the mightiest roar ever! And out came a teeny, tiny, “meow!”
Leonardo covered his mouth with his paws. If he could blush, his cheeks would be bright red. In fact, his little nose seemed to have a tinge of pink at the corners. The snake glanced sideways at little Leonardo and slithered off through the branches.
Leonardo hung his head. He was never going to have a fierce roar. He might as well give up. He turned around and headed back the way he had come. Suddenly, he came face to face with a jungle tree mouse. Leonardo froze. Java, the tree mouse, froze.
Java begged, “Please, fierce leopard, don’t eat me!”
Leonardo, caught a little off guard, stuttered, “A-are you afraid of me?”
Java said, “Of course. You are a fierce jungle leopard.”
Leonardo hung his head again. He whispered, “Not really. I can’t even roar” and proceeded to tell the mouse about his morning.
The mouse said, “Really? Try out your roar on me.”
Leonardo lifted his head. He started his rumbly growl way down in his chest, opened his mouth, and let out a mighty, “me-rawr!”
Leonardo was so discouraged, he started to cry. Java moved closer to Leonardo and touched his paw. “All you need,” Java said, “is a little confidence. Why not practice your stalking, leaping, and roaring on me?”
“Really?” Leonardo said brightly. “Of course,” Java replied.
So, they spent the rest of the morning playing and practicing. Leonardo chased Java up into the trees. Leonardo crouched in the jungle leaves and leapt at Java. Leonardo snuck up on Java from behind. Each and every time, Leonardo tried a mighty roar. But, the best Leonardo could do was a medium-sized “rawr!”
Leonardo should have felt discouraged, but he didn’t. Java jumped and squeeked every time Leonardo pounced. Java scrambled away from Leonardo and trembled at all the right times. Java made Leonardo feel fierce.
Eventually, Leonardo and Java felt very tired and collapsed in the bushes. Leonardo curled up and Java snuggled down in the nest Leonardo’s body made. Soon, Leonardo began to purr. It was the most delightful and comforting sound Java had ever heard—or felt. Java snuggled up closer to Leonardo and quietly asked, “Why do you want to roar anyway? The sound you’re making now is much nicer.” Leonardo curled himself around the little mouse a little tighter, adjusted his head so it was right next to Java’s, smiled, and drifted off to sleep—purring all the while.
By Karen Penry: May not be duplicated without express consent from the author
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