ABC Safari

NSTA Recommends - May 2007

This excellent read-aloud for the pre-K through primary audience is richer than the usual ABC book. Karen Lee, both illustrator and author, is not afraid to use a varied and interesting vocabulary. The rhymes, one for each animal, explain an interesting fact about each one without talking down to the audience. Thus we read:

“Her fanciful ears fan hot air away from crepe-paper skin that’s wrinkled and gray. Her versatile trunk’s not only a nose, When Elephant bathes, she makes it a hose.”

Plenty of new words are introduced this way, painlessly and in context, accompanied by appealing and accurate illustrations. The science allows the reader to introduce ideas like variations and adaptations at a developmentally appropriate level.

There is another little challenge added—a boy in a pith helmet and his pet parrot are hidden somewhere in each picture, as they take a “safari” through the list of alphabetically organized animals. This will encourage re-reading at a center. No attempt is made to catalog the animals by habitat, but each one is drawn in appropriate surroundings. The boy and parrot remain blissfully silent, leaving the rhyme and artwork to carry the meaning.

At the end, there is a set of pictures to be copied as cards with suggestions for games to be played; this would be another asset for a learning center. The pictures may also be downloaded for classroom use from the publisher’s website. ABC Safari is a fine supplement to the early childhood educator’s library for use in vocabulary development and early literacy using the very motivating theme of exploring for animals. - Ann Rubino Rubino

Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Review - Nov 2008

It is time to put on your toughest clothes because we are going to go on a safari. It is going to be a unique kind of safari because we are going to see animals from all over the world. There are beavers and alligators from North America, a cheetah and a lion from Africa, a penguin from Antarctica, dolphins and seals from the ocean, a tiger from India, and much more besides.

Alphabet books used to be just about learning the alphabet. This is no longer the case. In this book children will not only get to practice their letters, but they will also learn all kinds of things about the animals that are featured on the pages. They will discover that Yaks manage to stay warm even when “a freezing breeze” is blasting their mountain home. They will learn that owls fly on “silent wings,” and that the heavy hippo can “swim with buoyant grace.”

Well written and entertaining verses have been created for every letter of the alphabet, with each letter being associated with an animal. Thus G is for a gorilla, R is for a rhino, and so on. To accompany the verses the author has created some wonderful paintings. In each illustration a young boy and his parrot can be seen. The boy and his pet are the reader’s guides, and in his company children will have a wonderful time traveling around the world to explore the animal kingdom.

Children's Literature & Children's Literature Comprehensive database, June 2007

A safari adventure awaits children when they pick up this book. The rhyming text features animals from all habitats. Line length of the rhymes is varied so the text does not become boring. A few of the rhyming lines seem forced, but not to the point of distracting from a good read. Included as part of the safari journey are amphibians, mammals, fish, reptiles, and birds. Children may find some of them familiar and others to be new. Bright and lively illustrations add to the text and each of them includes an active child. This allows for the reader to picture himself or herself in the setting with the featured safari animal. Habitats include the forest, the sea, the river, the desert, a grassland field, the jungle, the mountains, and more. The Creative Minds section has 26 illustrated animal cards that contain the name, classification, and facts about each animal. It is suggested that the cards can be sorted by class or be used to play “Memory.” This book will make a fun supplement to classroom science lessons.
- Nancy Garhan Attebury

The Midwest Book Review - June 2007

Author Karen Lee has come through again in ABC Safari! Like her previous books, One Odd Day and My Even Day, she offers a fun way to learn. This time it is the alphabet on a safari journey to meet animals around the world. A boy and his parrot, like the young reader, unobtrusively observe each animal in its habitat. Can you spot the boy in each picture? Ms. Lee paints each animal accurately and to scale in its environment. This is an important feature for the young reader to learn size and scale. The rhyming text flows to an easy beat so that a teacher could use each animal's verse for movement or dramatization. The animal flash cards at the end of the book are a brilliant addition. Pre-readers will enjoy identifying each animal. Quite highly recommended for ages 2 to 7.
-Judith Nasse

National Wildlife Federation's "Your Big Backyard" - September 2007

Children go on a rhyming journey as they explore the world of animals from A to Z. On each page, a poem reveals a unique fact about the featured animal. From jackrabbits to penguins to rhinos, the book visits both familiar and exotic animals that live in a variety of different habitats and geographic regions. Animal cards at the back of the book can be copied and used to play memory and sorting games.

The Reading Tub - October 2009

Summary: In this ABC book each letter has a 4-line poem about an animal that stars with the letter (e.g., alligator, beaver, cheetah, etc.). The poem offers facts about the animal to help with learning. This picture book offers factual information about nature as it teaches kids their ABCs.
Type of Reading: family reading, anytime reading, playtime reading, read aloud book
Recommended Age: read together: 2 to 6; read yourself: 7 to 9
Interest Level: 3 to 8
Age of Child: Read with boys 2-year-old and 4-years-old.
Little Kid Reaction: My 2-year-old liked the animals. The 4-year-old was better able to appreciate the added information about each animal, including the illustrated details on each animal's environment. They BOTH wanted to read it again. They liked pointing out details about the animals and made connections to "like" animals.
Big Kid Reaction: I loved the attention to detail in this book. The illustrations were fantastic and well thought out. For example, in most books, hippos are portrayed in a zoo on land, or just a nose above water, but this hippo was shown swimming from under water - his true natural state! There is a rich amount of information from text and illustrations about each animal.
Pros: Wonderful illustrations and scientific accuracy offer layered learning for visual learners and those learning to read.
Cons: Some of the text seemed "forced," but this is a monor point.
Borrow or Buy: Borrow, at least. Parents should definitely borrow this book and may want to buy, depending on the number of animal and/or ABC books at home. This is not as strong as an ABC book, but it offers GREAT animal learning. For educators, this is an excellent animal science book.
Educational Themes: This is very geared to classroom learning, but it can be used at home for fun, too. Additional resources for animal flashcards are provided in the back of the book and online. There are themes of learning the alphabet, science, animals, and habitat.

Wee One's Magazine - June 2007

Learn the alphabet and about animals too in this fun concept book for young children. Animals from all over the world make an appearance in cleverly written rhyme and bold illustrations. A Creative Minds section at the end of the book teaches children more about the amazing animals found in the book! This is a great way to learn the alphabet and gain a love for reading!
- Jennifer Reed

BookLoons Reviews - July 2007

In ABC Safari, young readers roam through the alphabet along with critters from all over the world, presented in engaging rhyme. Kids will enjoy spotting the khaki-clad boy hidden on every lush, colorful page, along with his parrot. At the back of the book, three pages give brief summations of all the animals included.

It begins: 'He slyly waits in log disguise. / A greedy gleam shines in his eyes, / He'll wait until the moment's right, then Alligator's going to bite.' Some of my personal favorites are the Dolphin, the Gorilla, and the Urial, but readers will pick their own. The alphabet ends with the Zebra of course: 'He's more than a horse with a high fashion flair, / 'cause Zebras don't have to decide what to wear.'

The illustrations do a fine job of conveying the creatures' different attributes, the verses are smoothly written, and ABC Safari is altogether fun.
- Hilary Williamson

The Old Schoolhouse Magazine - July 2007

ABC Safari is a winner. The musical rhymes and vibrant illustrations make this book so fun you barely notice it's educational too. Each letter of the alphabet is assigned an animal. Descriptions of the animals are delightful. One of my favorites--

"She floats through the bay like a whiskered, gray lump
While grazing on seas grass to keep herself plump.
Her layer of blubber and thick skin will keep
The mild mannered Manatee's beauty down deep."

This large colorful book would interest most two-year-olds and also entertain the older child of seven or eight. The Creative Minds section gives additional information for each animal. Who knew koalas had extra fur on their bottoms to keep themselves comfy while sitting in trees!

If your intent is to teach your child to recognize the ABCs, there are better choices. The alphabet letters are small and, in my opinion, not isolated enough for introducing letters. If however, you purchase this amusing book to supplement letter recognition, you will get an enjoyable book that you will read and re-read to your young child.
- Marla G. Nowak

Stories for Children Magazine - February/March 2008

I found this book written and illustrated by Karen Lee to be a great read to teach the younger set their ABCs in a very unique format compared to other ABC books on the market.  Karen writes in rhyme, with the alphabet letter mixed in the text in bold.  On the first page, despite the gorgeous illustration of a fierce alligator, the reader won't see the "A" for Alligator until the third line of text! I found this a terrific way to keep the reader's attention focused on waiting for the word "Alligator" amidst the rise and fall of the lyrical, action-packed wording. I couldn't wait until I got to the letter "P"… did she include my most favorite animal?  Wow! Yes she did!  PENGUINS were awarded the prestigious "P" spot in Karen's fun book! Methinks Karen loves penguins, too!

 I'm already in love with the way Karen illustrates, but this book also shows me what a terrific author she is as well!  Each word she uses counts – nothing is wasted. Readers will also delight in the fun hunt for the hidden little boy and his brightly colored parrot in every illustration. This is an excellent, rich, award-winning book!  ABC Safari received the bronze award in the Alphabet/Counting Book category of the 2007 Moonbeam Children's Book Awards.

As with all Arbordale books, there is an educational section at the end of the book "For Creative Minds" that includes: ABC Animal Alphabet Cards for a memory game that teaches 1) Animal Classes; 2) Carnivores and

Herbivores; and 3) Fun Facts About Each Animal.

In addition, readers can find cross-curricular “Teaching Activities,” an audio reading, child-friendly “Learning Links,” and comprehension and math quizzes for free at
-Gayle Jacobson-Huset