Following Swamp Chomp (2014), Schaefer and Meisel explore animals in motion on the African savanna.
Schaefer begins by sketching the relationship between predators and their prey. “They chase their prey across the plains, sometimes catching their next meal, sometimes not. It’s a real-life game of hide-and-seek.” After a nighttime scene of sleeping prey animals eyed by a lioness, the action shifts to day, as “leopards spring, / and impalas bound. // Eagles swoop, / and hares hop. // Crocodiles lunge, / and hippos trot.” At times, the staccato couplets stray from their predator-prey focus: “Snakes slither, / and elephants lumber.” The narrative shifts again, to the animals’ collective movement: “Across the savanna, / they scamper and skitter, / past termites / and aardvarks, / near watering holes / and rhinos.” The text oversimplifies the savanna’s complex food chain, making no attempt to further distinguish the depicted animals as omnivores, herbivores, scavengers, or decomposers. Meisel’s mixed-media pictures clearly capture distinguishing features of the animals amid grasslands dotted with acacia trees. However, there’s visual elision, too, as several spreads—including a climactic encounter with lions and a final slumber scene—depict the animals as a cohesive group, with just one or two individuals per species. A few facts, and a list of the 24 mentioned animals with their average sprint speeds, are appended without references.
More whimsy than fact here—but by that measure, an agreeable-enough romp. (Picture book. 3-6)