“The Meerkat Wars”, H.S. Toshack, Paka Mdogo Press: 2010.
Quite by accident, Sheena, a small black and white cat, becomes a part of the meerkat wars. After saving the life of young Pebble, she carries him back to his home at the meerkat burrow of Deepend. While with the Duwara tribe of meerkats, Sheena learns of their conflict with their rivals, the Utongo.
This exciting opening of H.S. Toshack’s story draws us into “The Meerkat Wars”. Younger readers will want to know what happens next. Set in a national park in Africa, this book chronicles Sheena’s adventures in resolving the conflict between the two meerkat tribes.
Through Sheena’s adventures, the author introduces us to the great variety of animals on the African savannah. We become a part of not only the lives of the meerkats but also the porcupines, cheetahs, and others. While reading this book, we discover their caring and love for their little ones and old ones. For a brief time, all these animals become a part of our lives, and we care about their futures.
This young adult book is focused on having children explore the world of Sheena and the two tribes of meerkats. Each short chapter starts with a riddle poem, thereby setting the theme and encouraging the child to find out more. Also within each chapter is a lively illustration that highlights a major point of the story thus far.
In “The Meerkat Wars”, Mr. Toshack tackles the serious issues of bias and prejudice with gentleness and sensitivity. We see the meerkats from Sheena’s neutral point of view. We feel their struggle over who will live under the One True Sun. Meanwhile, Sheena goes from interested bystander to active peace negotiator. Through Sheena’s discoveries about herself and the meerkats, we find ourselves rooting for Sheena to succeed.
I recommend this book for children who read chapter books. It is a marvelous book for a parent or teacher to read out loud as a part of their story hour. In addition, the publisher offers an on-line set of resources for helping young readers enjoy the book.
Come and explore the world of the African savannah through the eyes of a small black and white cat. Be enthralled with the lives of the animals that live there. Together with your child, enjoy the poignant and satisfying end.