cover image HIPPOS IN THE NIGHT: Autobiographical Adventures in Africa

HIPPOS IN THE NIGHT: Autobiographical Adventures in Africa

Christina M. Allen, , illus. by Rob Shepperson. . HarperCollins, $16.99 (144pp) ISBN 978-0-688-17826-0

Part travelogue, part field guide, this peppy book chronicles the author's journey across Kenya and Tanzania as team biologist for an AfricaQuest expedition. The group's mission—"to meet with scientists and local people and gather clues to the disappearing wildlife" along East Africa's Great Rift Valley—ensures a trek chock-full of adventures. Allen's gusto borders on the ingenuous ("This could be the coolest African animal I've seen yet"). From a "close encounter" with hippos when she accidentally sets up her tent in a prohibited zone to meeting stately Maasai herdsmen and dancing with the women of the remote Turkana tribe, Allen's observations are upbeat ("Boeyacko knows nothing about movie theaters or shopping malls but probably knows a lot about the world around her, how to sew clothes with natural thread, track animals, and make a shelter out of tree branches"). Despite her occasional breathlessness, Allen's enthusiasm for her surroundings is infectious, and readers will come away not only with a broadened understanding of such problems as poaching but also with freshly kindled appreciation of East Africa. Final artwork not seen by PW. Ages 8-12. (Feb.)