cover image Meerkat Madness

Meerkat Madness

Ian Whybrow, illus. by Sam Hearn. Barron's, $6.99 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-4380-0303-0

Part of the Awesome Animals series, originally published in the U.K., Whybrow's (Harry and the Dinosaurs) story lives up to its title. Once king of his meerkat tribe in the Kalahari Desert, Uncle Fearless has been relegated to babysitting three cubs after being weakened by an eagle owl attack. He regales his skeptical charges with tales of his "Glory Days," when he was befriended by a group of "Blah-blahs" (humans) who live in "pointy mounds" (tents) and drive "Vroom-vrooms" (cars). When the four meerkats come across a hollow pink elephant on wheels filled with strange (to them) items, they use the contents to outwit marauders, including a rival meerkat tribe and a cobra. The novel's humor derives largely from the power that everyday human items give the cubs: enemies flee when they see their own reflections in sunglasses or are blinded by a camera's flash. Hearn's lively illustrations magnify the silliness of the meerkats' antics and their inadvertent cleverness. Simultaneously available: Panda Panic by Jamie Rix, Penguin Pandemonium by Jeanne Willis, and Raccoon Rampage by Andrew Cope. Ages 7%E2%80%93up. (May)