The Midnight Panther by Poonam Mistry

The Midnight Panther – at a glance

The School Reading Lists’ five word review: Beautiful, mythical, lyrical, stunning, empowering.
Children’s book title: The Midnight Panther.
Children’s author: Poonam Mistry.
Genre: Picture book, modern fable.
Published by: Templar Books.
ISBN: 9781787418936.
Recommended for children aged: 5+ year-olds.
First published: Hardback October 2022. This edition: paperback June 2024.
This children’s book is ideal for: Readers of all ages.

The Midnight Panther by Poonam Mistry

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Our review:

“In the depths of the forest there once lived a little panther”.

Panther lives in a majestic forest, full of life and wonder. Although he loves to explore his beautiful home, the other big cats tease him for being different. He doesn’t have the tiger’s bold stripes, the lion’s bright golden mane or the leopard’s dazzling spots.

“Each day they taunted him and over time Panther grew a little less brave, until one day he could take no more. And so he set off, hoping to change his fortune.”

First Panther finds some beautiful colourful feathers and makes them into a lion’s mane “as bright as the sun”. But then Wind blows them all away.

The Midnight Panther by Poonam Mistry spread 1

Next Panther tries painting fearless golden tiger stripes on his body with pollen. But Rain washes them away.

Then Panther finds a pile of leaves to give himself dazzling leopard spots. But Sun dries them up and they all fall away.

The Midnight Panther by Poonam Mistry spread 2

Poor Panther is lost and feels that he will never belong in the forest. But then Moon comes out and helps Panther to discover his true glory.

“In the light of the brightest stars, Panther’s coat began to sparkle, simmering like jewels.”

Told in lyrical, almost poetic language, The Midnight Panther is a touching fable of courage and inner strength. What really sets this book apart however is its amazing design. Shortlisted for the 2024 Yoto Carnegie Medal for Illustration (previously known as the Kate Greenaway Award) the book is a visual masterpiece.

Stunningly illustrated by the author, the gold embossed designs perfectly capture the book’s jungle setting. The repeated celestial motifs and Indian art techniques immerse the reader in Panther’s mystical world. The intricate designs and clever interplay of word and text encourage repeated readings.

The Midnight Panther by Poonam Mistry spread 3

The book is dedicated to “everyone who was ever made to feel different”. Its powerful message of self-acceptance is one that will resonate with children who have ever felt that they were in some way separate from those around them. Its beautiful illustrations will appeal to readers of all ages and will inspire future artists and designers.

An activities pack for the book is available on the Yoto Carnegies website.

The Midnight Panther by Poonam Mistry spread 4

The Midnight Panther is a truly joyous read that will appeal to readers of all ages. Its deceptively simple story of finding your place in the world is wonderfully enhanced by the incredible illustrations. This is truly a book to treasure.

Many thanks to Templar Books for the review copy.

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If you like The Midnight Panther by Poonam Mistry you might also like: our reviews of The Star Whale by Nicola Davies, illustrated by Petr Horáček, Butterfly Wings by Samuel Larochelle, illustrated by Eve Patenaude, Alte Zachen: Old Things by Ziggy Hanaor, Ten Little Dogs by Ruth Brown and A Million Dots by Sven Völker.

Browse our Year 2 book list.

About Melanie Dillon

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Melanie has a Master’s degree in Information and Library Management; a Post Graduate Certificate in Children’s Literature focusing on the Reading Agency’s Reading Well scheme & LGBT YA fiction, and extensive experience working in school and public libraries. Linkedin | Reviews by Melanie Dillon