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Quirky humour blended with a passion for conservation

Review of 'Leave a Message in the Sand: Poems about Giraffes, Bongos, and Other Creatures with Hooves' by Bibi Dumon Tak.

Author Bibi Dumon Tak blends quirky wit, scientific knowledge, and conservation facts with poems formatted as modern communication techniques to draw young readers into the world of creatures with hooves. In an email conversation between a wild boar and a pig, a radio announcement about a cape buffalo, a 911 call about a mountain goat, a live radio interview between a dik-dik and a hippopotamus, an email letter to the editor of a newspaper composed by an okapi, and more, children learn amazing facts about hooved beasts.

Children are also encouraged to use their imaginations as they view the hoofed creatures God created. For example, about the giraffe, Bibi Dumon Tak writes: “Hey there, you walking watchtower / with your long-necked superpower! / You can see your way above the crowds. / But what’s it like so near the clouds? / Don’t you feel cold all the way up there? / Can you even breathe the air? / Does the rain blow wet and the wind blow dry? / Do you bump your head upon the sky?”

Though the book is recommended for children ages six and older, it is better suited for ages 10 and older because much of the humour will be difficult for very young children to grasp. Adults will also find in this unusual collection of poems much to ponder about the intricacies of God’s good creation of hoofed creatures and the importance of taking care of all of the earth. Playful, spirited illustrations complement the lively, informative text.

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