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The First Bear in Africa!
     

The First Bear in Africa!

by Satomi Ichikawa
 
It's a race to the finish as young Meto chases a motorcar through the African savanna. A girl is in that car, and she has forgotten her little bear. Meto must get it back to her! Taking a shortcut through the marshes, he comes upon his friends-Hippopotamus, Lion, Elephant and Giraffe. Can they help Meto return this strange little animal in time, before the girl flies

Overview

It's a race to the finish as young Meto chases a motorcar through the African savanna. A girl is in that car, and she has forgotten her little bear. Meto must get it back to her! Taking a shortcut through the marshes, he comes upon his friends-Hippopotamus, Lion, Elephant and Giraffe. Can they help Meto return this strange little animal in time, before the girl flies off and leaves Africa forever?

Illustrated with glowing watercolor paintings, Satomi Ichikawa's charming story celebrates the people and animals of the African savanna, and in the simple loss of a toy bear, reveals the humanity we share across the world, even with the youngest.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
In this winsome import from France, Ichikawa (Nora's Castle) tells how the very first bear came to Africa. When a family of tourists "from far, far away" visits his African village, Meto is fascinated by the teddy bear the young daughter holds and remarks, "I have never seen this kind of animal beforeDit is not from our savanna." The girl inadvertently leaves her teddy behind as the family drives off in their jeep; a dramatic illustration shows the boy's shadow cast across an entire spread as he gazes at her forgotten property. The boy becomes determined to return it. The author smoothly incorporates the reactions of the animals that are native to the savanna as the boy carries the strange creature in pursuit of its owner. Joined by a growing menagerie and riding on the back of a giraffe, Meto reaches the visitors just as they are about to board a small plane and hands the stuffed toy to the delighted girl. Picking up on her words ("My bear!"), the enlightened animals spread the word across the savanna that a bear has graced their presence, "The first bear in all of Africa." Drawing on a palette of soft, earth tones, Ichikawa's watercolor paintings bring the terrain, people and wildlife into clear focus and illuminate the story's subtle juxtaposition of two cultures. A light, appealing caper. Ages 4-8. (Apr.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Young Meto is surprised by a brief visit from a car full of tourists to his small village in the African savanna. His father tells him to show the little girl his goat, for she is carrying a stuffed animal strange to him, but one she obviously cares about as much as he does about his goat. It is only when the car leaves that Meto realizes that she has left her pet behind. With the help of his animal friends, and some imagination on the part of the reader to accept that lions, hippos or elephants would do this, Meto races through the marshes to return it before they all fly away. Of course she is very glad, and gives him the bear's ribbon for his goat. She then tells him and his curious animal friends that the animal none of them had recognized is a bear, truly "the first in Africa." The chase is a charming excuse to describe a bit of Africa and, more important, to depict several of the local species. The lively, naturalistic color illustrations show the animals in family groups chatting with Meto. Humor is emphasized, particularly in the depiction of the tourists with their ever-ready cameras. A brief Swahili glossary is included. 2001 (orig. 1998), Philomel Books/Putnam Penguin Books for Young Readers, $14.99. Ages 3 to 6. Reviewer: Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 1-Meto lives with his family and animals "in a very small village in the middle of the African savanna." One day, tourists appear in their motorcar and, as the boy puts it, "watch us all the time from behind their photographic machines." Among the group is a little girl holding a toy bear, and Meto notices that he has "never seen this kind of animal before." Shortly after the group departs, he spies the bear on the ground and takes off on foot to return it. Along the way, each animal Meto passes has a question or a comment. A hippopotamus wants the bear for his son; the lion wonders if a new animal has entered his kingdom; an elephant hears the little girl crying; and a giraffe provides the ride that allows Meto to reach the tourists' plane. The story ends as the creatures marvel over the appearance of the "first bear in all of Africa." Attractive watercolor illustrations capture Meto's exuberance and his innocent interactions with the animals of his savanna. A brief glossary of Swahili words provides the only specific connection to this generic African landscape. A sweet and idealized tale of universal fellowship.-Alicia Eames, New York City Public Schools Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780399234859
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/23/2001
Edition description:
1 AMER ED
Pages:
1
Product dimensions:
8.30(w) x 10.25(h) x 0.42(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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