Serengeti: Plains of Grass

Peachtree. Mar. 2022. 48p. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781682631911.
K-Gr 4–The Serengeti comes to life in all its color and glory through illuminating verse, matter-of-fact narrative, and captivating illustration. Bulion once again makes science accessible and imaginative through an innovative variation of utendi, a poetic form from East Africa. Each four-line stanza follows a repeated pattern, ends with a partial rhyme, and concludes with a last line which highlights the Serengeti’s most precious and symbiotic resource—grass. The grass and the landscape are just as important in the ecosystem as the animals, and therefore feature prominently in the illustrations. Stadtlander’s renderings embody the expanse through spectacular colors, shading, and brushwork via gouache and pastels. Careful contrast creates depth and gentle hues and helps portray the immensity of the unending landscape. The illustrations are full of movement, sometimes subtle but always in tandem with the verse. Brief scientific facts, presented in standard sentences, engage learners but make a bump in the flow of the poetry. Reading straight through may present read-aloud challenges; however, reading just the verse or just the facts successively will allow listeners to pick up on new vocabulary and pictorial details. It includes a detailed overview of the Serengeti, a glossary, further reading, and additional resources.
VERDICT A STEAM book in the truest sense as it inspires curiosity through art and science. This warm and wise purchase will benefit educators in poetry, geography, or science units.

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