Written by Irene Latham
Illustrated by Anna Wadham
Millbrook Press 8/01/2014
Age 4 to 8 32 pages
oxpecker and lion.
This water hole is yours.
It offers you oasis
beside its shrinking shores.
“Spend a day at a water hole in the African grasslands. From dawn to nightfall, animals come and go. Giraffes gulp, wildebeest graze, impalas leap, vultures squabble, and elephants wallow. Irene Latham’s gorgeous poems are accompanied by additional facts that provide further details about the animals and their environment. Imaginative illustrations from Wadham complete this delightful collection.”
Dear Wandering Wildebeest, is composed of 15 poems about wild African animals, a glossary of possibly unusual words, and a section of advanced reading, enhanced by beautiful illustrations of the animals and the African land in which they live.
If you like giraffes, monkeys, lions, and elephants, you are in luck. There are also rhinoceros, small nightjars, vultures, marabou storks, oxpeckers, and, of course, wildebeest. Don’t worry, there are many more animals than that in this wonderful book. The pages look like the African Plains have jump onto the paper, leaving nothing bare. The beautiful skies change with the day, sometimes the dark blue of midnight or the rosy shade of dusk.
Some of the poems rhyme and some do not, but all are easy to read aloud. Impala Explosion swiftly jumps off the reader’s tongue.
peace shatters . . .”
—Impala Explosion, (partial poem) by Irene Latham © 2014
Kids will love the poems. They will understand them all, and any word that is foreign to them is most likely sitting in the glossary waiting to spread some understanding. If you like the aforementioned giraffes, Ms. Latham wrote a triptych in its honor. What is a triptych, you ask? I have no idea, but the glossary knows. Let’s check.
“triptych: a work of art divided into three sections”
That would be correct. The giraffe’s poem is divided into three sections:
Feeling parched, the giraffe craves a drink. Giraffe’s must be cautious, as it has no idea what other animals will be at the water hole. It could be dangerous. To quench its thirst, the giraffe must be courageous and confident because other animals will pounce on a weak animal. Giraffes are cool creatures. If the poem does not convince you of this, read the information box in the lower left side of the spread.
Each spread has an information box containing interesting things about the animal or animals illustrated. I really like the information the author/poet adds to the spread, much of it new information that I found fascinating. For instance, did you know the impala could jump as high as eight feet? Eight feet! That is high enough to clear the privacy fence in your backyard, if you have one, and have two feet between the top of the fence and the impala’s belly. How about this, in one year, the wildebeest travels—looking for food—more than 800 miles across the Serengeti. This is equivalent to you traveling across the state of Kansas, east to west (or west to east) twice, or the state of Rhode Island from north to south (or south to north) a whopping 20 times! The extra information is very interesting.
The illustrations are simply gorgeous. The African animals depicted in detail and the landscapes of various colors are easily as beautiful as the animals—except maybe snakes. I do not like snakes. If you do, they are covered and you will think they are beautiful. Check out each animal’s eyes. There is always something going on that draws their attention. (I think that darn snake is looking at me!) There is so much to see on each spread.
Dear Wandering Wildebeest is one of those picture books that will delight nearly 99% of those most who read its poems and view its lovely art. Kids, you will love the animals, the sometimes-quirky poems, the illustrations, and all the interesting side information about life at an Africa watering hole for the wild creatures that need it for survival. If you love poetry and animals, Dear Wandering Wildebeest is a book is for you. It is really that simple. With school right around the corner, Dear Wandering Wildebeest is perfect book for show and tell or light research for a book report on an African watering hole and the animals that depend upon it.
DEAR WANDERING WILDEBEEST: AND OTHER POEMS FROM THE WATER HOLE. Text copyright © 2014 by Irene Latham. Illustrations copyright © 2014 by Anna Wadham. Reproduced by permission of the publisher, Millbrook Press, Minneapolis, MN.
Learn more about Dear Wandering Wildebeest: And Other Poems from the Water Hole HERE.
Millbrook Press is a division of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc.
Also by Irene Latham
Read Review HERE.
Also by Anna Wadham
Copyright © 2014 by Sue Morris/Kid Lit Reviews