Excerpt from The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the Book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards

by Kristopher Jansma

The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Mar 2013, 272 pages
    Feb 2014, 272 pages

  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

Buy This Book

About this Book

Print Excerpt

The Pink Packet Thieves was universally adored by the women in the terminal, and for a few days I had my first taste of a writer's celebrity. But I was not really a writer—not yet. Not even then. Mr. Humnor said that if we made copies and put them up for sale in his shop we could split the profits. For a night or two I dreamed of the hundreds of dollars I would surely make—perhaps even enough so that my mother could retire and we could fly around the country together.

There was one person whom I had not yet shown the book to—and that was Mr. Bjorn. There was no one in the concourse whom I wanted to like the book as badly. For days I watched him, waiting for my moment, and finally I walked over, on a slow Tuesday afternoon that summer, to offer him my story. Up on his high chair, Mr. Bjorn seemed even more terrifying than ever.

"You get any bigger yet? You ready to put one of those links back in?"

"I wrote a book," I said meekly, as I held it out.

"So you have," he said, squinting down at it for a moment. His hands were shaking and he kept sort of clearing his throat.

"You could read it," I explained, as I pushed it toward him.

He lifted it up, made a little show of admiring the title and the cover art, and released a familiar fluttery whistle. "I'll take a look at it as soon as I'm done with my paper. One hour, son. All right?"

I agreed, happy to see him smiling. "A book," he laughed as he set it down. "Sounds like someone wants to live forever."

I didn't know what he meant by this but I didn't care. I rushed off again through the concourse, giddy with pleasure, and I did not stop running until I reached Emerson Books and snatched three candy bars while Mr. Humnor pretended not to look. I camped out there, beneath the rotating rack of romance novels, watching the little hands on my wristwatch twisting slowly around, the little ticking of the escapement seeming to grow louder and louder.

When an hour had finally passed, I rushed out of the store and followed a crowd of passengers to the other end of the concourse. When I got there I was surprised to see a crowd massed around Mr. Bjorn's kiosk. Ms. Barlow and Mrs. De Santos and Mrs. Nederhoffer were all there, but Mr. Bjorn was not. His high chair was on the ground, on its side. His newspaper lay in a heap beside it.

"Old guy's ticker just stopped," I heard a rough voice say. It was a policeman—a blue pudgy ball with a buzz cut—and he was holding my book in his hand. And he was laughing. Not like Mr. Humnor laughed. Laughing as though he thought something was awful. And all of my daytime minders were just standing there, letting him laugh.

"Was this the old guy's?" the officer asked, that horrible smile still on his face.

"No," said Mrs. Nederhoffer. "It's just this little boy's. His mother's one of the flight attendants, and she leaves him here all day like it's some sort of daycare center."

"We all sort of look after him," Mrs. De Santos chimed in. "Honestly, I live in fear every day that some nut will run off with him."

Ms. Barlow agreed, loudly, that if one ever did, it wouldn't be on her chest.

The officer laughed—a hacking, barking sort of laugh. "No father?"

This time the ladies laughed—their cackles were high and excited—as if there were nothing they liked to laugh about more. They all began talking at once, but I heard them say bad words before I could hold my watch up to my ears. Soon I couldn't hear anything but the ticking. I stood there in a dark forest of strangers' knees, listening to second after second, escaping. Then with one careless motion, the policeman chucked my book into the nearest trash can. None of the ladies even noticed.

Excerpted from The Unchangeable Spots of Leopards by Kristopher Jansma. Copyright © 2013 by Kristopher Jansma. Excerpted by permission of Viking. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" backstories
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $10 for 3 months or $35 for a year
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book:
  Famous Literary Spats

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member
and discover your next great read!

Join Today!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: Of Arms and Artists
    Of Arms and Artists
    by Paul Staiti
    In the late eighteenth-century, the United States of America was still an emerging country, ...
  • Book Jacket: So Say the Fallen
    So Say the Fallen
    by Stuart Neville
    Noir crime fiction – Raymond Chandler, Dashiell Hammett anyone? – is an American invention...
  • Book Jacket: The Mothers
    The Mothers
    by Brit Bennett
    Every now and then the publishing industry gushes about a young author destined to become the next ...
Book Discussions
Book Jacket
The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles

An epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice.

About the book
Join the discussion!

First Impressions

  • Book Jacket

    Les Parisiennes
    by Anne Sebba

    How the women of Paris lived, loved, and died under Nazi occupation.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Next
    by Stephanie Gangi

    Fast-paced, wickedly observant, and haunting in the best sense of the word.

    Read Member Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    North of Crazy
    by Neltje

    The remarkable life of a woman who carves her own singular path.

    Read Member Reviews

Win this book!
Win The World of Poldark

Win the book & DVD

Enter to win The World of Poldark and the full first series on DVD.


Word Play

Solve this clue:

One S D N M A S

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends books that we believe to be best in class. Books that will whisk you to faraway places and times, that will expand your mind and challenge you -- the kinds of books you just can't wait to tell your friends about.


Free Weekly Newsletter

Keep up with what's happening in the world of books:
Reviews, previews, interviews and more!

Spam Free: Your email is never shared with anyone; opt out any time.