More whimsy than fact here—but by that measure, an agreeable-enough romp.

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)

Pub Date: Feb. 15, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8234-3555-5

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Holiday House

Review Posted Online: Dec. 7, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2015


A sweet, poetic ode to autumn.

A rhyming celebration of imagination.

A child with brown skin offers gentle, artful ideas about what to do with autumn leaves. The picture book's idyllic setting seems Northeastern in nature, with deciduous trees shedding leaves, which the child scoops up. Could a leaf from a tree become a hat, a Halloween mask, a hammock, or something else entirely? "It could be a horn that blows, announcing that we're here. // A leafy parade to celebrate our favorite time of year." Rhyme rules the text but isn't forced in the least. Collaged leaves against painted illustrations encourage play and imagination. A nod to winter and spring make this a year-round read. Endpapers with realistic labeled images of leaves provide an injection of information in this otherwise dreamy musing. The backmatter includes instructions on collaging—a meaningful and fun activity that builds upon the text. While there's nothing groundbreaking here, there is opportunity for both learning and whimsy. (This book was reviewed digitally.)

A sweet, poetic ode to autumn. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: July 12, 2022

ISBN: 978-0-593-30659-8

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Random House Studio

Review Posted Online: April 12, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2022


Animated and educational.

A hare and a ground squirrel banter about the differences between related animals that are often confused for one another.

Jack is “no Flopsy, Mopsy, or Cottontail,” but a “H-A-R-E, hare!” Like sheep and goats, or turtles and tortoises, rabbits and hares may look similar, but hares are bigger, their fur changes color in the winter, and they are born with their eyes wide open. As the ground squirrel (not to be mistaken for a chipmunk (even though Jack cheekily calls it “Chippie”) and Jack engage in playful discussion about animals, a sneaky coyote prowls after them through the Sonoran Desert. This picture book conveys the full narrative in spirited, speech-bubbled dialogue set on expressive illustrations of talking animals. Dark outlines around the characters make their shapes pop against the softly blended colors of the desert backgrounds. Snappy back-and-forth paired with repetition and occasional rhyme enhances the story’s appeal as a read-aloud. As the story progresses, the colors of the sky shift from dawn to dusk, providing subtle, visual bookends for the narrative. One page of backmatter offers a quick guide to eight easily confused pairs, and a second turns a subsequent exploration of the book into a seek-and-find of 15 creatures (and one dessert) hidden in the desert. Unfortunately, while most of the creatures from the seek-and-find appear in poses that match the illustrations in the challenge, not all of them are consistently represented. (This book was reviewed digitally with 7-by-20-inch double-page spreads viewed at 53.3% of actual size.)

Animated and educational. (Picture book. 3-5)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-358-12506-8

Page Count: 32

Publisher: HMH Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 12, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021