Not the first kids' story to come of the African animal rescue operation undertaken in 1959 in the wake of the Kariba Dam's completion, this one centers on a bratty American sixth-grader visiting his engineer dad. Grounded for blocking an impala roundup and letting a python out of the bag, Nicky steals a boat and goes off to prove that he, too, can rescue animals, by golly. And though his 'early efforts backfire and his absence wastes precious time back at camp, he ends up rescuing a BaTonga girl who's alone with her dead grandfather in an evacuated village--and, with her, persuading a herd of kudu to swim to safety. And by the time searchers find them paddling along in the gasless motorboat, the two children have established--as one of the Britishers puts it--a bloomin' ark. Thus does Nicholas Oliver Armstrong III (NOA) become known as Noah forevermore. Motivation and characters are as primitive as the children's communication (the girl's limited mission English is punctuated with frequent aaiiees; Nicky leans to zowies and hot dogs and gees), but as usual Dinneen's exotic wildlife and terrain will attract adventure seekers.