Berkes and Dubin tackle another habitat in their series of variations on “Over in the Meadow,” this time visiting the African savanna.
As in others in the series, each turn of the page/verse of the song introduces a new animal parent and an ever increasing number of babies as the family does something natural within its habitat: the zebras gallop, the giraffes slurp acacia leaves, the elephants squirt water, and the hippos graze. The mother lion teaches her five cubs to stalk, the babies hunkered down against the ground behind a screen of grass, though the prey is neither mentioned nor shown. The family group of chimpanzees swing in the trees “over in the grasslands,” which may be very confusing to young children. The backmatter explains that while most live in the rain forest, some have adapted to living in the savanna. Other animals include hornbills, aardvarks, meerkats, and jackals. All the animals are pictured on a map of the African continent in the backmatter, which also includes a paragraph of information about each, more about the savanna habitat, blurbs about the hidden animal in each spread, the requisite “Fact or Fiction” paragraph, notes from the author and illustrator, and the song lyrics and music. Some brilliant and unusual color choices, along with marvelously textured and patterned papers, make the cut-paper collage illustrations pop.
One wonders what habitats are left for Berkes to tackle; here’s hoping there’s a least one more. (Informational picture book. 3-7)