From School Library Journal
PreSchool-Grade 3–A story set in a South American tropical rain forest. Awakened by a falling raindrop, Little Tapir is invited by Spider to explore. As he follows the arachnid, leaving his sleeping mother behind, he begins to hear the jungle's song "in the beat of his feet." Here, the narrative switches to pulsing verses: "Deep in the jungle where cathedral trees/Rise like pillars with flickering leaves./From the break of day in the cool half-light,/The jungle sings all through the night." Rich, vibrant watercolors will captivate readers and draw them deeper into the forest with the little animal. The intoxicating song takes Little Tapir further and further away from his mother, until the beat suddenly stops at nightfall. When he realizes that he is lost, his happy mood is replaced by feelings of loneliness and fear. At this moment, his mother appears, relieved to find him safe. Together, they walk into the undergrowth, as the jungle song starts again. This endearing story captures the innocence of a child's spontaneous curiosity, and the rhythm of the language makes it a great read-aloud. A note provides a few facts about tropical rain forests.–Tracy Bell, Durham Public Schools, NC
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PreS-Gr. 2. The team that brought children Arctic Song (2000) returns with an excursion into a South American rain forest. A spider's silky invitation tempts a young tapir into leaving his sleeping mother's side to explore the jungle. An abrupt change to rhyme and snaking boldface type signal passage into a very different world. Kennaway's gently realistic paintings teem with jungle animals and plants as Little Tapir moves through a landscape dense in foliage and raucous with animal sounds. Jungle sights and sounds--the screams of howler monkeys, the soft padding of the panther--are all around, and so is the energy of flickering leaves, slashing rain, and skittering animals. An afterword by conservationist David Bellamy, whose expertise in the field is never identified, provides some information about tropical forests, increasing the value of this as a classroom tool. Connie Fletcher
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