The wisecracking musk ox and buttoned-up zebra take off to travel the world.
These pals (last seen in Musk Ox Counts, 2013) have a half-fond, half-irritated, very entertaining relationship. When the zebra finds their globe shattered and his companion utterly ignorant of geography, he whisks them off on a tour of continents, lecturing all the way—while the musk ox quips. Some of the humor is genuinely rib-tickling, in particular their banter. Also funny are the musk ox bestride a camel, penguins toppling hilariously in Antarctic wind gusts, and various “Hysterical Marker” signs with attitude (“In 1911, the South Pole was discovered by 5 men and 16 dogs. Guess who took the credit?”). Other jokes fall flat, such as the musk ox’s pickup-artist lines: Zebra introduces some animals “called gnus,” and musk ox says, “Well, I just want to call them. Hello, ladies! Is it hot out here or is it me?” Jazzy information (Antarctica’s a desert!) tussles with artistic license (Bactrian camels erroneously show up in Africa). The portrayals of the continents employ a lazy reductiveness: Africa’s all nature and animals, while Europe has the Eiffel Tower—and humans. Target-age readers are too young to unpack this problematic implication. Myers’ paintings are visually bold, truly funny and richly colored.
Great art and (some) fabulous humor, but the geographical implications requiring correction make this a difficult choice. (Picture book. 5-8)