Youngsters can go on safari in this tactile venture.
A friendly, brown-skinned “guide” waves to readers on the opening double-page spread and offers an invitation to explore the savanna. Nine tableaux follow with a textural element embedded in or affixed to every other recto. There is an encounter with a “fuzzy” zebra with soft black stripes, a “bumpy” crocodile with embossed, green vinyl for skin, and a “furry” lion mane created with flannel. One to two sentences of introductory text, written in a cordial tone, hovers above the scene, and each animal is identified with a large caption in an appealing type that has a handwritten feel. Wilson’s art is endearing, and critters look quite cuddly in her childlike style and soft, watercolor palette of pale green, yellow, blue, and brown. The adventure ends with the guide hunkering down for the night in a tent made with a canvas fabric swatch. Given that the title and the cover (with jeep tires to touch) promise a texture-rich experience, the project is a bit of a letdown as the tactile elements appear only on every alternating page.
While underwhelming in its exploration of textures, it does succeed as a playful introduction to animals of the African savanna. (Board book. 6 mos.-2)