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OVER IN THE GRASSLANDS by Anna Wilson Kirkus Star


by Anna Wilson & illustrated by Alison Bartlett

Age Range: 3 - 6

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-316-93910-2
Publisher: Little, Brown

The familiar childhood song of “Over in the Meadow” receives a makeover in a lush new setting. With an upbeat tempo, catchy rhymes take readers on a tour of the African landscape while they learn about the numbers one through ten. From three squawking eaglets to ten sleepy monkeys, Wilson introduces a wide array of exotic and familiar animals. Rhythmic verses remain faithful to the original format of the traditional poem: “Over in the grasslands / where the sun shines late / Lived an old mother toad / and her little toads eight / ‘Hop,’ said the mother. / ‘We hop,’ said the eight. / So they hopped and they hopped / while the sun shone late.” Adult readers will be hard-pressed not to warble the sing-songy rhymes during read-aloud sessions while the repetitive structure of the poem invites preschoolers’ exuberant participation. Bartlett’s illustrations shimmer with the colorful intensity of the African plains; the slightly blurred renderings capture the abundant flora and fauna of the terrain. A two-page spread is dedicated to each new number introduced, with the verse on one side and an accompanying illustration on the other. Prominently placed in the upper left-hand corner of each spread is a picture of the highlighted numeral. The full-bleed, full-color illustrations on the facing pages depict an animal mother and babies in their natural habitat; lions loll on a grassy slope while hippos soak in a sapphire-blue, fish-filled pond. End pages include an overview of the numbers and animals. A melodious and edifying addition to the genre. (Picture book. 3-6)