An anthropomorphic warthog encounters items, animals, and plants in quantities from one through 10 while exploring the savanna that surrounds his African home.
Jaunty rhyming verses describe each discovery, from “one scoop of honey” through “ten footprints, pair by pair,” but numerals appear only on the endpapers, not within Black’s text. Each verse begins with the phrase, “A warthog went a-wandering,” a pleasing repetition that adds a sense of structure. Most of the things the warthog finds pose no real threat (“two angry bees” are easily eluded) or appear friendly, like the fluttering butterflies, but the footprints do lead him into a potentially perilous encounter. Luckily, if implausibly, he escapes and scampers home safely. Beardshaw’s attractive collage-and-paint illustrations provide a colorful if generic setting and plenty of details to pore over. Varying patterns and textures add interest to the simple stylized shapes. The inclusion of a lurking lion in several scenes foreshadows the final encounter; his cheerful cartoon-style expression should reassure young listeners that all ends well. Differently sized and shaped flaps, some with cutouts, conceal some lines of the text and open to reveal clever transformations. Unfortunately, the storyline meanders, more a vehicle for the counting exercise than an actual plot.
The winsome warthog is appealing as he blithely hops, splashes, hums, and wanders his way through his day, but it doesn’t quite add up to an exciting adventure. (Picture book. 3-7)