Book Review: Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard by Lars Guignard

Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard by Lars Guignard is the first book in the Zoe & Zak Adventures children's book series. Zoe Guire is along for the ride as her mother takes a business trip to India. she is excited to see the country, and to have some time with her mother. Unfortunately, Zak has come along with his father, and the two are thrown together as their parents are called away from the hotel on business. Even worse, strange things have started to happen. An elephant statue speaks to Zoe, and that is just the beginning. Soon Zoe and Zak are on a trip through the country of India to protect a mysterious Ghost Leopard; guided by a strange snake charmer, butterflies, and a mysterious woman. But, they are not the only ones looking for the leopard. Can the pair survive their journey, trust in themselves, and become friends?

Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard is a fantasy and adventure novel with strong characters. Zoe typically avoids odd things, working with logic and research. that is something I can relate with. Zak is much ,ore of a free spirit, living life in the moment. while they do not always get along, the pair complement each other in a way that feels natural rather than formulated. Zoe has questions about her family and her past, which is tied up in the larger story of the series, but her growth and aptitude for the gift she need to survive are well done. I enjoyed watching her grow through the story, and while we do not get to see Zak's thought process through the story, I felt like he had come to several realizations and grown as well. The action is fast paced, and the mythology used was fascinating to me. my only real concern was that the parent's distance from the kids, which was necessary for the story to take place but had trouble accepting, maybe because I am a parent.

I highly recommend Zoe & Zak and the Ghost Leopard to readers around age eight and older. Fantasy and adventure fans should ad this to their must-read list. There is fast paced action, mythology, magic, and interesting things about India that can quickly capture the imagination. I found the characters to be engaging and look forward to reading more in this series. I can not wait to see what kind of trouble Zak can find next, and what Zoe can discover about herself.
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