****   Journey Through Animal Eyes                    Review by Rox Burkey

Author Maretha Botha places the reader inside with both the humans and the animals on their journey.  The four different stories captivated me, along with charming illustrations.

I liked the character development of Larita, one human child, in the first story. She hangs onto hope in the face of captivity and protects her smaller brother.

“By noon, some of the calves fell behind.  Tall Leader chased ahead, looking for one of his drivers.  He shouted, ‘Don’t waste time with those animals.  Why did you load them in the first place? Now, they’re a problem. Leave them here.’

Larita’s eyes were sad because ten calves were left behind near a rocky outcrop of a small sandy riverbed. She called out, ‘Be brave and stick together. Don’t move from here. Our people will follow the cattle tracks and reach you soon!’ She almost didn’t believe her own words, yet she hoped that help would come in time for all of them.

Tall Leader laughed out loud as he rode past, teasing, ‘Oh, you’re such a baby girl!  Stop now, Little Orphan.”

This part compelled me to find out what happened next. Flame and the furry animals follow a different path, searching for their kidnapped humans. The obstacles this group faces keeps the story engaging. The descriptions of the animals and birds are educational entertainment, perfect for teaching children.  I liked the illustrations in the second journey.

On the third path, the trust between Clement and Kgabo was critical. Also, one could feel family values as the top driver for them taking a riskier road. This segment and the final fourth book bring together the importance of not quitting and family commitment regardless of human or extended animal members. Working together is essential.

This delightful story is designed for middle school youngsters. I can see it as a fun way for teachers to explore African animals and environments. The writing is delightfully descriptive with all the senses engaged, from the hot sun to the parched throats and vibrant animals. Recommended for all ages who wish to explore Africa and allow the imagination to run free.

About the Author

Author/Illustrator Maretha Botha admits to being addicted to black coffee and chocolate. She and her family love the outdoors and hike on the moors whenever possible. Gardening and bird watching are favourite past-times. She has written and illustrated a series of Middle Grade children’s books called “Fauna Park Tales”. Books 1-4 are available in Kindle as well as black and white illustrated paperbacks, approximately 20,000 words each.

She also writes poetry and short stories. One of her poems, “The Fisher Girl” appears in an anthology published by 4WillsPublishing, “Rave Soup For The Writer’s Soul” 2017/18 Edition.

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