My Bibi Always Remembers

Toni Buzzeo, illus. by Mike Wohnoutka. Disney-Hyperion, $16.99 (32p) ISBN 978-1-4231-8385-3
The duo behind Stay Close to Mama and Just Like My Papa returns with another cross-generational animal story set in the African savanna. Like Twiga the giraffe in Stay Close to Mama, Tembo the elephant is easily distracted, darting away from her family as they search for water. “When Tembo looks up,” writes Buzzeo, “she is all alone. Wind whistles through the acacia trees. Tembo squeals. Which way should I go? She waits and listens.” The story reaches its dramatic apex the third time Tembo wanders off for a nap, awakening as “hyenas laugh” and “lions huff” nearby. Wohnoutka amplifies the danger by placing the predators in the foreground amid the dark shadows and ruddy colors of sunset, but Tembo’s family isn’t far off, and a sense of security is quickly reestablished. Buzzeo emphasizes the important matriarchal role of Tembo’s grandmother, Bibi, throughout, and endnotes offer additional information on how these eldest elephants lead and protect their families. In both text and art, it’s a careful and effective balance of anthropomorphic warmth and real-world animal behavior. Ages 3–5. Author’s agent: Stefanie Von Borstel, Full Circle Literary. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/02/2014
Release date: 08/19/2014
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