In this picture-book sequel, Leclercq (Snow Flower and the Panther, 2018, etc.) follows two African schoolgirls as they learn the importance of personal safety.
One morning, Snow Flower, a girl from Cameroon, decides to climb a mango tree. She ignores her grandmother’s wishes and the warnings of her talking panther cub, Nzui, and makes her way up the tree successfully. She finds it much harder to climb down, though: “You were right,” she tells Nzui. “That wasn’t a very safe thing to do. I should have listened to you.” Later, when Snow Flower’s human friend Kia wanders away from school, Snow Flower, Nzui, and their pal Remi go into the jungle to find her. After Kia is rescued with help from a teacher, she learns that grown-ups’ warnings were meant to keep her safe. The parallel stories of Snow Flower and Kia give the book a solid structure as each learns to heed the advice of knowledgeable adults. However, children are more likely to be interested in the talking panther and his friendship with a human girl than in the book’s lessons. The expressive, brightly colored digital illustrations, which employ a cartoonish style, effectively capture the everyday atmosphere of Cameroon, exposing youngsters to an underrepresented setting.
Intriguing characters and appealing illustrations will draw readers to this slice-of-life tale.