First Come the Zebra

By Kirkus Reviews

After the rainy season, Kenya’s animals work in concert, each type eating from a specific niche of the lush grasslands, shown here in appealing, expansive ink-and-watercolor illustrations. This sets the stage for the story of Abaani, a young Maasai herder, and Haki, a Kikuyu farm boy who works in a market stall, in a picture book with nonfiction flavor. The two groups are at odds over land use, so the boys initially exchange angry insults. Thrown together in a moment of danger, the two work together to save a toddler caught in the path of warthogs, which makes both reconsider the aforementioned hatred. Gradually, a friendship and a partnership form, inspiring the boys to hope that their families and people will find a similar way to appreciate one another and share Kenya’s resources. Thought-provoking . . . serves as an accessible exploration of the concept of tribal disputes and more general themes of friendship and conflict resolution. A nice choice for classroom use and home reading.