cover image The Zebra’s Great Escape

The Zebra’s Great Escape

Katherine Rundell, illus. by Sara Ogilvie. Simon & Schuster, $19.99 (64p) ISBN 978-1-4814-9163-1

Writing in the tradition of rumbustious British children’s classics, Rundell (One Christmas Wish) introduces Mink, a headstrong city-dwelling child who “did not believe in bedtimes.” Her surprising encounter with a baby zebra named Gabriel in a park—deserted because all the other children are home in bed—leads to a search for the mustachioed villain who has captured Gabriel’s parents. Mink first learns Gabriel’s telepathic form of communication (“The colors shifted and sharpened. They were red, and orange, and urgent”), then tries it out with other animals to appeal for information about Gabriel’s family. Startlingly fresh descriptions (“A long tongue reached out and licked a little snot from the inside of Mink’s nostril”), comedic dialogue (“I swear it on the life of my goldfish”), and rousing adventure (“To ride on the back of a zebra! That was a thing not even a king could do”) keep this cracking yarn galloping toward a theatrical climax. Boldly lined and colored artwork by Ogilvie (Dogs Don’t Do Ballet) contributes additional bursts of comic energy to a rollicking hero story for a new generation of wildlife protectors. Human characters are portrayed with pale skin. Ages 5–9. (Aug.)