We all Went on Safari

I haven’t traveled to Africa yet, although I am confident that my wanderlust will guide me there in the coming years.  Until then, I continue to visit Africa in books.  I like to dream of a time and place when animals, big and small,  roamed freely on an peaceful and plentiful Earth.  

If I had a pair of ruby slippers, I’d tap them together and step into the pages of  We all Went on Safari.  I’d  join Arusha, Mosi and Tumpe as they admire the animals of Tanzania from a distance with wonder, respect and honor.  

Regional focus:  Africa/Tanzania

Author:  Lauri Krebs

Illustrator: Julia Cairns

Genre:  children’s literature

In We all Went on Safari we meet Arusha, Mosi, Tumpe and their Maasai friends in Tanzania as they take us on a walking safari through the African grasslands. As we turn the pages of Kreb’s story, we encounter native animals like elephants, lions and monkeys. Along the way, we  learn to count in Swahili.

What I love:

  • The book contains an illustrated guide to counting in Swahili, a map, notes about each of the animals and facts about Tanzania and the Maasai people.
  • The story uses repetition, which invites children to participate in read a-louds.
  • Krebs weaves gentle rhymes and descriptive adjectives into her writing.
  • The illustrations by Julia Cairns are playful, vibrant and whimsical.

Themes: counting, habitat, African animals


  • What animals did you most like in the story?
  • How old are you in Swahili?
  • How are you similar and different from the children in Tanzania?
  • Where would you like to explore with your friends? Why?


  • Investigate a specific animal from Tanzania.
  • Make animal masks with supplies found at home. Play “safari” in your garden.
  • Design your own Maasai necklace with a paper plate and paint.African Necklace Craft



Handa’s Surprise

Regional focus:  Kenya

Author:  Eileen Browne

Genre:  Children’s literature

Take a trip to young Handa’s Kenya where you will learn of the fruits, animals and terrain of her village in Eileen Browne’s playful story, Handa’s Surprise. Handa plans to surprise her best friend, Akeyo with a basket of fruit and wonders what fruit she will most like. Little does she know that the true surprise is on her.

What I love:

  • Browne’s illustrations are lush and vibrant.
  • Children are engaged with the element of surprise that is woven into the text.

Themes:  friendship, kindness


  • What acts of kindness have you delivered to your friends?
  • How do we know that someone is a good friend?
  • What fruits are grown in your region of the world?
  • What animals do you see when you walk in your neighborhood?


  • Rewrite the story as “Child’s Name” Surprise. Use fruits and vegetables  that are found in his/her life.
  • Investigate a new fruit or animal from Handa’s Surprise.
  • Young children can  create a paper weaving  like Handa’s basket and practice over/under patterns.