A book about…kindness?
It’s actually hard to say what this book is about. Sadly, it’s also difficult to find much kind to say about this convoluted story set “in the wilds of East Africa.” Digital illustrations depicting lightly anthropomorphized, talking animals are bright and engaging enough, but they fail to make up for the rambling story’s many plot holes and meandering tangents. At first, the animals are “hungry, mean, and had stopped believing in their dreams.” The ensuing pages detail a series of events in which the animals help one another out of various predicaments and in doing so find joy. This might seem like a straightforward premise, but the text confounds readers with: repeated, arbitrary refrains of “Wa-Hu-Wa-Hu-Wa-You”; uses of the (mystifyingly capitalized) word “BUFF” as an undefined compliment to mean something like “kind” (“That was really BUFF of you”); odd dung beetle jokes that don’t quite land; and a bizarre interlude that’s supposed to be sung to the tune of “The Wheels on the Bus” but lacks the appropriate cadence. Closing, baffling text reads “Wa-Whoo! / Shake your pompoms, / Share big smiles, / Light your stardust, / We’ll all go miles” as several animals dance about. Ultimately, it’s a bizarre amalgamation of words, pictures, and a quasi-moral, culminating with four pages of incomprehensible backmatter prompts for extension activities and discussion.
Not much to love. (Picture book. 4-6)