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Summary: It's a good thing that Riley knows his math, because Uncle Max needs him in South Africa to help count the wild animal populations. On this trip the adventurers are nearly run over by an elephant and flattened by a hippo. Riley learns a hard lesson in littering, too. This title in the nature/science series teaches us about the animals of the serenghetti.
Type of Reading: playtime reading, read aloud book, independent reading
Recommended Age: read together: 5 to 10; read yourself: 9 to 12
Interest Level: 6 to 10
Reading Level: 3.9
Age of Child: Read with and by a 9-year-old girl.
Young Reader Reaction: "I love Riley, he always goes cool places." She also loved the photos of the animals: leopards, lion cubs, giraffe, and a Lilac-breasted Roller.
Adult Reader Reaction: These are great stories, if a bit choppy. Overlaying photography with illustrated characters helps draw out the nonfiction elements, as do the nice boxes. Lumry doesn't step away from the realities of the bush, either. In one photo there is a black rhino with an open wound from a gunshot.
Pros: This fast-moving story introduces kids to animals and habitats of the South African Savannah. There is a ton of information packed in about scientific processes and purposes, too. Boys will love the "gross" factor of the cheetah's playing with elephant poop and the Oxpecker's relationship to the Cape buffalo.
Cons: Depending on your child's sensitivity to wounded animals, the bloody rhino may unnerve them. It is not over done by any stretch, but it did catch my daughter's attention.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow. This is a fun series and the stories are both entertaining and educational.
Educational Themes: There are a number of levels to this book. You can talk about animals and their habitat, scientific processes, conservation and extinction, and technology. The photographs give you some sense of terrain, as well, so you can use that to look at a map or globe and follow their path.
Notes: This title is a Writers Notes Magazine Book Award Winner. The publisher donated a copy of this book knowing that we would consider it for review and provide an independent, unbiased profile. This book will be given to a nonprofit to help readers in need.
Literary Categories: Fiction - nature, science, geography, adventure, picture book series