cover image The Armadillo from Amarillo

The Armadillo from Amarillo

Lynne Cherry. Harcourt Children's Books, $17 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200359-3

The musings of a Texas armadillo who wonders ``Where in the world am I?'' are the springboard for a journey and geography lesson that are wide-ranging indeed. Sasparillo climbs a tower in San Antonio, then sets out to explore the variegated terrain--canyons, woodlands, prairies, plains--of his native state. His curiosity unslaked, he then hops aboard a willing eagle's back for a true bird's-eye view. The armadillo and eagle eventually hitch a ride on the space shuttle, allowing them to contemplate the vastness of the universe--and pushing this flight of fancy rather too far. The rhyming text is merely workmanlike, but Cherry's peripatetic armadillo, bright-eyed and with a knapsack hung over his shoulder, makes a jaunty, appealing adventurer, and her meticulous lines and wide-ranging palette do full justice to the country through which he roams. The sheer beauty of her field of bluebells and her stark rock formations, to name just two scenes, speaks eloquently to the need to cherish and protect our earth. Sprinkled throughout are postcards from Sasparillo to a cousin in the Philadelphia Zoo. One quibble: the concluding author's note is unnecessarily long and belabored (``Some of the things that Sasparillo experiences could not happen to a real armadillo''). Ages 5-9. (Mar.)