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First Come the Zebra by Lynne Barasch

Published by Lee & Low Books


Publishers Summary: One day when Abaani, a Maasai boy, takes his family’s cattle out to graze, he is surprised to see a Kikuyu boy, Haki, tending a new fruit and vegetable stall alongside the road. The boys know of the traditional conflicts between the Maasai and the Kikuyu. They take an immediate dislike to each other.

A short while later, as customers surround Haki’s stall, a dangerous situation suddenly arises. Abaani calls to Haki, and together they act quickly. Little do the boys know they have also taken the first step in overcoming their differences and forging a path to friendship.
Framed by the annual great migration of animals to Kenya, First Come the Zebra looks beyond current conflicts toward the hope for peaceful coexistence. This appealing story is an encouraging tribute to the potential of today’s youth to make a difference in the world.

Lynne Barasch was inspired to write First Come the Zebra by the beauty of the land and people of Kenya, which she visited in 2007.

The Turkeybird Speaks: “Wow! Did you know there are wild pigs, cows, gazelles and of course zebras in Kenya? Also, did you know Kenya is on the other side of the world from where I live in a place called Africa? It’s amazing! There are whole places that don’t have lots and lots of houses, just fields of grass as far as you can see. That would be so neat! I’d also love to see all the animals!

“I really liked this story a lot, first because of all the animals but after was because of the story of the two boys. It’s kind of funny because the first boy starts yelling at the other one and has kind of a funny look on his face. It’s pretty funny because they both end up being really good friends in the end. They both help each other and play games together. It doesn’t get much better than that. You should read this book because it’s got so many great animals in it and a great story about these two friends!”

Mom’s Two Cents: A beautiful country amidst a large and ever present change two boys struggle to build a friendship despite predisposed stereotypes. Abaani comes from the country where animals roam freely, graze and provide food as a product of the environment they come from. Haki is a member of the Kikuyu people who farm and live off the land that Abaani’s people, the Maasai, feel belongs to the animals. Their people’s long time differences have instilled in the other an immediate dislike of the other, but when a dangerous situation leads them to aid the each other their temporary truce becomes something more over time…friendship.

This story begins simply with gorgeous illustrations of the beautiful countryside of Kenya and closes with a completely different kind of beginning, hope. The wonderful thing about this for younger readers is that it starts out by capturing their attention with the landscape and incredible animals then moves into a deeper story. Sometimes I find that with less “flashy” picture books it’s difficult to catch the Turkeybird’s interest and it’s little things like the opening of the story that provide the perfect compromise allowing for great teaching moments.

Not only is this a beautifully told story with wonderful illustrations, but it’s also a story with heart. It shows the importance of change and acceptance; how looking with an open heart and mind can bring about incredible possibilities. So it is with not only Abaani and Haki, but with many of the children of Kenya now. This is a concept that children, and adults, everywhere can learn from. Each of us could be a little better for keeping our minds open to the possibilities of another way of life, you never know how it might improve both involved. This is definitely a book with a meaningful, heart-felt story. Lynne Barasch’s love for the people of Kenya is evident from the opening lines of the book to the very last page. First Come the Zebra is a book every child should read, enjoy and learn from for years to come.

The1stdaughter Recommends: Ages 3 and up. A gorgeous story about the importance of friendship and acceptance of the others around us.

Today’s giveaway is part of our month long celebration of Lee & Low Books for our monthly feature “Book Publishers 101“. Make sure to stop by the Lee & Low Books Site for more information about this title and more. For more information about our Book Publishers 101 feature take a look at this month’s opening post.

Make sure to enter our giveaway post for this month! You may just pick up a copy of this very title!

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2 Responses to Book Review: First Come the Zebra by Lynne Barasch

  1. Jenni Elyse says:

    I love the pictures! The illustrations are what I love most about children’s books. If there are great illustrations, then I’ll usually read the book.

  2. Gina says:

    Sounds like a winning combination of both learning and story….so glad you and the Turkeybird enjoyed it!

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