Kay Kay's Alphabet Safari

Cover: Kay Kay's Alphabet Safari

Kay Kay lives in the village of Bungoma in the country of Kenya. One day as he is passing by the Star of Hope School, the schoolchildren call out to him. They want to show off their brand-new classroom. When Kay Kay looks at the room with its white walls, he realizes it could use a little artwork.He promises the children that he will paint pictures of animals, from A to Z. That will help the children learn their alphabet. But first he needs to think about this project. So Kay Kay walks through the beautiful Kenyan countryside, looking for inspiration for his animal artwork.As he walks about, he is warmly greeted by many creatures. From the tiny Ant to the huge Hippo to the striped Zebra, everyone wants Kay Kay to stop and visit. But he tells them he is far too busy thinking about his art project to stop. It's only when Kay Kay reaches the end of his walk that he realizes his inspirations are all around him!



  • Dewey: [E]
  • Graphics: Full-color illustrations
  • Hardcover (9781585369058): 40 pages, 9 (w) x 9 (h), © 2014, 08/01/2014
  • PDF (9781627537650): 40 pages, 9 (w) x 9 (h), © 2014, 08/01/2014
  • Hosted ebook (9781627537919): 40 pages, 9 (w) x 9 (h), © 2014, 08/01/2014


  • Suggested Interest Level: Age 6 - Age 9
  • Suggested Reading Level: Grade 3
  • Lexile® Measure: 720
  • Guided Reading Level: J
  • ATOS Reading Level: 3.2
  • ATOS Interest Level: LG
  • Accelerated Reader® Quiz: 169456
  • Accelerated Reader® Points: 0.5

BISAC Subjects


  • 2014 Creative Child Award Preferred Choice Kids Books Category, Winner, 2014


Kirkus Reviews - Kay Kay's Alphabet Safari

Themed alphabet books are like the Little Engine that Could—they just keep on comin’.

This one is based on the author/illustrator’s personal experience in Kenya. A young man named Kay Kay promises the children at a new school in his village that he will paint the plain white walls with animals from A to Z. As he walks along looking for inspiration, he meets groups of animals too busy at playing “jackstones” or reading riddles to help. They are obvious (to readers) choices, though Kay Kay doesn’t realize it. As he continues his jaunt, each threesome of animals joins in the trek behind him, ending in a complete animal alphabet. The animals he encounters are highlighted in green: “ ‘Kay Kay, come dance with us!’ shouted Baboon, Crocodile, and Dragonfly.” Most of these animals are relatively familiar, with the possible exceptions of Nyala, Quagga, Upupa Bird, Vervet and Xerus Squirrel. The loosely energetic, cartoon illustrations are lively with capricious details. The backmatter includes a glossary of typical Swahili words such as “please” and “bathroom,” as well as such comic phrases as “My brother picks his nose” and “No more broccoli, thank you.” There is also an author’s note, photos of the real Kay Kay and the Star of Hope School, and a map, but unfortunately there is no key to the animal names.

Kids will enjoy the silliness, and there’s lots of potential for the classroom. (Picture book. 6-8)


Author, Illustrator: Dana Sullivan

Dana Sullivan was born in Los Angeles, California, and has been drawing on scraps of paper and in the margins of math tests for as long as he can remember. Since he has always loved reading and drawing, he got a degree in Comparative Literature from the University of Washington and then one in Graphic Design from Seattle Central Community College. Dana was the Creative Director at Costco Wholesale for 16 years until he realized he wasn’t being all that creative. He quit to become a full-time writer and illustrator of children’s books. He tutors reading at the neighborhood elementary school, is the resident on-the-spot cartoonist at 826 Seattle (one of the national chapters of Dave Eggers’s 826 Valencia nonprofit organization), and is on the advisory board of the SCBWI Northwest Chapter. Dana has been married to the same lovely Vicki for 30 years and still misses the real Ozzie, an incredibly stubborn and wonderful Australian Cattle Dog (Blue Heeler) named Max, who continues to inspire. They live near Seattle, Washington, with their dog, Benny