Four boastful Asian animals learn a lesson in humility.
Cambodia’s Angkor Wat was once known as the “City of Temples.” Gibbon, Tiger, Water Buffalo and Gecko laze near a temple ruin together. Each posits that he would be a superior king; this speculation turns into a challenge and, ultimately, a race to the top of their mountain. Tiger gets off to a quick start, neatly avoiding a menacing snake but ignoring a beautiful crane with a broken wing. Not far behind, Gibbon also encounters the snake, now tangled in branches, and helps to free him. When Gibbon tires, he hitches a ride on a slow-moving pangolin. When Water Buffalo comes upon the snake, he’s filled with fear and decides to take the long way up, around the big swamp. Gecko has no trouble zigzagging past the serpent. When the four animals reach the top, they’re surprised to find Elephant waiting for them. He recounts the exploits of each; none has the qualities that make a king, he says, citing their actions during the race. The quartet leaves together, pondering all that Elephant has said. This simple morality tale is lifted to loveliness by Base’s gorgeous digital illustrations, majestic and richly colored, filled with characteristic detail and intricately bordered.
These pages beckon readers to return again and again to pore over the details. (author’s note) (Picture book. 4-8)