cover image COOL TIME SONG


Carole Lexa Schaefer, Pierr Morgan, , illus. by Pierr Morgan. . Viking, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-670-05928-7

The team behind The Squiggle transports readers to a magic moment in the savanna, when all the animals momentarily come together to celebrate "cool time." During the day, "Sun burns so very strong/ that lion, royal lion,/ sits weak as a cub/ in the rising heat," writes Schaeffer. "And hyena, laughing hyena,/ lies still as a stick/ in the stubbly grass." Morgan drenches these daylight spreads in shades of blazing yellows and oranges; the roughly outlined, subtly mottled animal renderings bring alive the sense of heat hitting thick, hairy hides. Then "Earth turns," and before the animals head off for their nightly hunts, they join in a song at the watering hole to celebrate the dusk. "Giraffes rattle dry leaves—/ Shah-ticka. Shah-ticka. Shah ./ Elephants trumpet long blasts—/ Vroo-oot. Vroo-oot, Vroo-eet ." Morgan translates the music into playfully undulating lines, and conveys the animals' joy by adding splashes of electric colors (e.g., the zebras' stripes pulsate with blue, pink and green). The unbridled raucousness leaps off the page, but the feeling fizzles within a few pages, as the penultimate spread cautions readers that the animals' song is really one of peace and respect for the environment that humans must heed (" 'Care for the water.'/ 'Tend the land' "). After pages of strong, rhythmic prose and graceful pictures, it feels rather like gilding the lily. Ages 3-up. (Mar.)