phd mama

from diapers to deconstruction


A Literary Safari


We selected a safari theme for my elder child’s nursery before she was born, and she received a pride’s worth of stuffed lions as gifts in her earliest months. Her interest in big cats has not abated since, and she recently started asking a lot of questions about predators and prey, relationships between species, and geographic locations for animal groups. Since she still loves to play lion, and indeed sometimes insists on travelling on all fours while we’re hiking, I thought I’d start by introducing her to some of the animals of Africa. The following list includes some of our favorites, a mixture of science-oriented nonfiction, poetry, fables, and counting stories—many accompanied by stunning photography. These books illustrate the way science, history, and art intertwine to weave a portrait, however partial, of the reciprocal influences of animals, people, and land. This is one more list I could continue to expand as we learn more and more about an entire continent’s worth of amazing creatures, but for now, I hope you enjoy our literary safari as much as we did.

African Acrostics: A Word in Edgeways by Avis Harley and Deborah Noyes

African Animal Alphabet by Beverly and Dereck Joubert

African Animals by Caroline Arnold

African Cats by Disney Nature (a documentary film)

Baby Baboon by Mwenye Hadithi and Adrienne Kennaway

Baruti and the Chameleon by Lisa Brothers Arbisser and Glenn Darlington

Crafty Chameleon by Mwenye Hadithi and Adrienne Kennaway

The Elephant and the Scrub Forest by Dave Taylor

Giraffes by Catherine Ipcizade

Greedy Zebra by Mwenye Hadithi and Adrienne Kennaway

Hot Hippo by Mwenye Hadithi and Adrienne Kennaway

Hungry Hyena by Mwenye Hadithi and Adrienne Kennaway

Lazy Lion by Mwenye Hadithi and Adrienne Kennaway

Lions by Catherine Ipcizade

A Magic Skeleton Book: Safari Animal Adventure by Shaheen Bilgrami, Chantal Kees, and Chris Shields

Planet Earth: Animals of Africa by Lisa L. Ryan-Herndon

Safari by Robert Bateman

Safari, So Good: All about African Wildlife by Bonnie Worth, Aristides Ruiz, and Joe Mathieu

Simms Taback’s Safari Animals by Simms Taback

Tricky Tortoise by Mwenye Hadithi and Adrienne Kennaway

Water for One, Water for Everyone by Stephen Swinburne and Melinda Levine

We All Went on Safari: A Counting Journey through Tanzania by Laurie Krebs and Julia Cairns

A Zeal of Zebras: Animal Groups of an African Safari by Alex Kuskowski

Zebras by Catherine Ipcizade