Kirkus Reviews QR Code


by Alex Beard & illustrated by Alex Beard

Age Range: 4 - 7

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2009
ISBN: 978-0-8109-8001-3
Publisher: Abrams

Imbuing a game of “Telephone” with elements of Chicken Little’s hysteria, Beard focuses on the animals dwelling around a watering hole in a fictive African landscape. Turtle comments to Bird, “The Watering Hole is always good for a laugh….But lately the humor has been drying up.” Bird mistakenly conveys to Elephant that the watering hole is drying up, thereby starting a cascade of further misunderstandings that finally circle back to another incipient misread by Bird at tale’s end. Beard’s experiences in Kenya and other African countries lend authority to the tale, but its agreeable premise is muddied by textual confusion and reliance on children’s dubious ability to comprehend metaphor. Pale watercolors convey the heat and the rich array of wildlife in black-bordered double-page spreads. Outside some borders, thumbnails provide additional depictions of wildlife—insects, wildebeests, zebras—and extend the text’s humor. Regrettably, this visual enhancement is not employed throughout, flattening the panache. One wonders, too, about the choice of “Jungle” for the title, since the setting, depicted in charming endpaper maps, appears to be a savanna. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-7)