Port Lincoln based dentist Jarrad B Elson has a winner on his hands with his debut children’s book, Cheetah the Cheater, superbly illustrated by Erika Tcogoeva.
Written in rhyme, the short punchy verses tell the story of the jungle animals and the fun they have playing games. The Cheetah always wins however, and they soon learn that he’s cheating. The animals plot their revenge with a race and a wager, teaching Cheetah that it’s better to be honest.
The game in question is poker and some of Cheetah’s dishonesty will resonate with the adults more than the kids, but this makes the book appealing to both age groups. It’s a fun story using clever, easy rhyming that’s best read aloud.
The full-page illustrations are gorgeous and most offer a number of elements to point at and discuss with a child. Full credit to Tcogoeva for bringing the characters and settings to life so vividly. At times, the colour contrast is poor against the text however, and anyone with colour blindness will probably struggle to read the black text when it sits on a green or dark background.
Comparisons with Disney’s Jungle Book are inevitable due to the cast of animal characters, but the story is unique with a good moral that’s well realised. It’s a large book released in hardcover on good quality paper and is sure to take pride of place on a book shelf.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 8
Available from: Cheetah the Cheater website
Released: April 2018
RRP: $28 hardcover, $7 eBook