★★★★★ The Adventures of Edward the Baby Liraffe: Africa, by Jack Le Raff and illustrated by Casie Trace, is the first book in a new picture book series about an adventurous young animal born in South Africa. Edward is the son of a lion father and giraffe mother, which makes him a—you guessed it!—liraffe. Though his home is certainly picturesque, Edward stumbles upon an abandoned travel guide one day and discovers that the world is so much bigger than he thought. Unable to quell his curiosity, Edward is helped by the rest of the animals, who prepare him for his journey across the African continent. Edward meets multiple friendly faces, like a gamekeeper who gives him a ride to Victoria Falls, and a whole family of giraffes who live at Giraffe Manor in Kenya. From there he travels to Cairo, where a marketplace mishap causes a bit of stress—but Edward remains convinced that the world holds plenty of wonder for those willing to look for it!
Painted with beautiful pastels, this picture book is the perfect complement for anyone looking to teach kids more about animal conservation efforts in Africa. Edward is raised in Freeland, which is part of a real-life network of NGOs designed to help end wildlife trafficking and human slavery. It is likely that the next book in the series will explore some of the issues that face animal populations in other parts of the world, like abandonment by owners and urban pollution. The book would also make a great study tool for students learning geography, and there’s an illustrated map at the back of the book that will help visualize Edward’s path from start to finish. Verdict: This book is utterly delightful!