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“Once you learn to read, you will be forever free.”
Summary: Follow along the river's edge as we explore the trees and animals of Zimbabwe. This is an illustrated journey through the jungle at the edge of the Kalahari desert.
Type of Reading: family reading, anytime reading, middle grade reader, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 4 to 8; read yourself: 7 to 10
Interest Level: 4 to 8
Age of Child: Read with child 4½ years old.
Young Reader Reaction: S/He was very interested in the animals' activities and particularly focused on their eyes. We had lots of questions, even though our preschooler was familiar with the animals.
Adult Reader Reaction: This is a nice turn on your normal animal story. The animals aren't necessarily unfamiliar, but the house-that-jack-built cadence adds a lyrical quality that complements the incredible illustrations.
Pros: The illustrations are captivating, even if you don't read a word. There are plenty of opportunities to ask a child what s/he sees, and engage them in creating a unique story. The fact sheet in the back is great for older readers.
Cons: None. The author did a great job of setting out the 'food chain' without taking that last step (or is it first bite?).
Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. The poem offers a wonderful alternative to introducing non-fiction data about animals in the African jungle.
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