After the Kill

Overview

A hungry lioness attacks a grazing zebra on the plains of East Africa. She bites it in the throat. The zebra is dead. After the kill, the lioness and her pride rip the carcass open and eat. Vultures swoop in and fight over scraps of meat, and cunning jackals compete with bone-crushing hyenas for a piece of the feast. Life on the plain is a constant, dramatic struggle for survival between predator, prey, and scavenger.

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Overview

A hungry lioness attacks a grazing zebra on the plains of East Africa. She bites it in the throat. The zebra is dead. After the kill, the lioness and her pride rip the carcass open and eat. Vultures swoop in and fight over scraps of meat, and cunning jackals compete with bone-crushing hyenas for a piece of the feast. Life on the plain is a constant, dramatic struggle for survival between predator, prey, and scavenger.

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Editorial Reviews

School Library Journal
Gr 2–4—This accessible and compelling slice-of-life on the Serengeti Plain is aptly titled and remarkably dynamic as it describes what happens after a zebra is taken down by a lioness. A variety of predators and scavengers vies for the meat, including male and female lions, hyenas, jackals, and several species of vultures, concluding with meat-eating beetles that pick the bones clean. Students will move quickly from sympathy for the prey to fascination with the life-and-death survival drama that is playing out. Events are viewed with an air of objectivity that encourages closer inspection and discussion. Side notes in a different font provide further details about the animals, their adaptations to life on the plain, and their relationships to other animals. The writing is full of vivid descriptions and enticing action: "The hyenas devour the zebra in a frenzy of biting and pulling. They tear entire limbs and large pieces of meat from the carcass, making eerie laughing sounds as they squabble." The vibrant watercolor and gouache paintings are filled with vitality and movement, and the predominant yellows and browns reflect the setting. Pair this with Robert B. Haas's African Critters (National Geographic, 2008), which offers photographic counterpoint and plenty of facts on many of the same creatures to draw in animal lovers. This is a fascinating introduction to an intriguing topic and a must-have for all libraries catering to young readers.—Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA
Children's Literature - Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
This realistic tale follows a hunting lioness, vultures, hyenas, jackals, and the lion family as they deal in turn with the killing and eating of a zebra on the plains of East Africa. It is not for the squeamish, as the creatures take their turns disposing of the carcass. After vultures fight over the remains, tiny meat-eating beetles finally pick the skeleton clean. The bones will slowly turn to dust on the Serengeti Plain. The role of each creature is honestly detailed in larger type-face paragraphs, while smaller print notes on the side or below add additional information. The predators advance in line across and around the jacket/cover: "After the kill comes the feast." Stock uses pencil, watercolors and gouache robustly, carefully representing each animal but also conveying realistically the potency of the action, the inter-specie confrontations, the aggressive tearing and chewing. The artist does a remarkable job conveying the gross emotions of the eating sequences without presenting overly realistic images beyond touches of brilliant red. Exciting narrative and information are combined here with striking images for emotional involvement. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 2–4—This accessible and compelling slice-of-life on the Serengeti Plain is aptly titled and remarkably dynamic as it describes what happens after a zebra is taken down by a lioness. A variety of predators and scavengers vies for the meat, including male and female lions, hyenas, jackals, and several species of vultures, concluding with meat-eating beetles that pick the bones clean. Students will move quickly from sympathy for the prey to fascination with the life-and-death survival drama that is playing out. Events are viewed with an air of objectivity that encourages closer inspection and discussion. Side notes in a different font provide further details about the animals, their adaptations to life on the plain, and their relationships to other animals. The writing is full of vivid descriptions and enticing action: "The hyenas devour the zebra in a frenzy of biting and pulling. They tear entire limbs and large pieces of meat from the carcass, making eerie laughing sounds as they squabble." The vibrant watercolor and gouache paintings are filled with vitality and movement, and the predominant yellows and browns reflect the setting. Pair this with Robert B. Haas's African Critters (National Geographic, 2008), which offers photographic counterpoint and plenty of facts on many of the same creatures to draw in animal lovers. This is a fascinating introduction to an intriguing topic and a must-have for all libraries catering to young readers.—Jody Kopple, Shady Hill School, Cambridge, MA
Kirkus Reviews

When a lioness kills a zebra, the carcass becomes food not only for her pride but also for vultures, hyenas, jackals and, finally, meat-eating beetles that clean the skeleton, leaving it to turn to dust on Africa's Serengeti Plain.

The cover illustration summarizes the narrative: A lioness, mouth open and long canines visible, reaches out with large clawed paws; lion, jackal and hyena are close behind. A vulture perches on the title page. This is a realistic depiction of predation in the wild. Aimed at elementary-school readers, this title has none of the sweetness of the Smithsonian mammologist's earlier works about bumblebee bats, meerkats and baby belugas.Lunde's explicit description doesn't mince words: "[T]he lioness rips the carcass open and feeds on the soft internal organs first." Informational paragraphs, set off in a different type, accompany the narrative, adding intriguing details about each species. These dual texts are set on full-bleed double-page paintings done in pencil, watercolor and gouache. The jumble of animals around the kill is realistic; yellows and browns of the sunlit Serengeti landscape and red of the blood predominate. The action in these paintings moves relentlessly forward until the last arrivals, the lappet-faced vultures and beetles, finish the job.

Pair this with Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen's Flying Eagle, illustrated by Deborah Kogan Ray (2009), for more "nature red in tooth and claw" science. (Informational picture book. 7-10)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781570917448
  • Publisher: Charlesbridge Publishing, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/1/2011
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 1,293,209
  • Age range: 6 - 9 Years
  • Lexile: 980L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.70 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 0.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Darrin Lunde has worked as a mammalogist at the American Museum of Natural History and at the Smithsonian Institute. His work has brought him into contact with all kinds of animals, big and small, throughout the remote forests of South America, Africa, and Asia where he camped for months at a time to survey species diversity and to discover new species. He is the author of HELLO, BUMBLEBEE BAT, a Theodor Seuss Geisel Award Honor Book, AFTER THE KILL, and other books about animals. He lives in Washington, DC.

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