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by Derek Joubert, Beverly Joubert, photographed by Beverly Joubert

Age Range: 4 - 6

Pub Date: May 1st, 2011
ISBN: 978-1-4263-0781-2
Publisher: National Geographic

The Jouberts, National Geographic Explorers-in-Residence, introduce young readers to the African animals they have studied for years and give them a lesson in letters at the same time.

A large capital letter frames every page (sadly, without its lowercase counterpart), while the photography takes center stage. A short paragraph either introduces a fact or two about the animal or describes what is happening in the photograph. Heavy alliteration encourages kids to look for each instance of the featured letter on the page—how many b’s are on the baboon page? Attempts to include the featured letter in the paragraph sometimes feel forced, overly anthropomorphic or inappropriate; for example, after cheetahs catch their dinner, they “chomp and chew with delight.” But the letter hunt will be secondary for most children—the photographs will keep them riveted. Beverly Joubert gives readers an up-close and personal view of each animal, capturing the features that make them unique. A brief glossary helps young readers with some of the more challenging vocabulary: boisterous, rambunctious, vociferous. Backmatter also includes a list of sources for more information and a double-page spread showing each letter of the alphabet, a thumbnail photo of the animal it represents and a brief listing of facts, including habitat, size, food, sounds and how many babies they have at a time.

A solid introduction to Africa’s fauna—happy (letter) hunting. (Informational picture book. 4-6)