Animal Tales is a series of 12 controlled readers bringing Dr. Phil McGraw’s Life Strategies to 3rd-5th graders. Students are taken on an African adventure where the life strategies are presented as fables.
The Journey Begins is the first book in the series. Here, readers spend time with Jake as he persuades his parents to create an African bedroom for him in the attic. The safari scene painted on the walls is quite realistic; what none of them realizes is that the room is magical and can transport Jake to a village in Africa.
On his arrival at the village, Jake meets the other main characters; Grandpa, Nia, and Elena the chimp. Grandpa controls the magic and has brought Jake to the village to help rid them of poachers who are camped at the water-hole and who are playing havoc with the balance of nature.
The problem is that Jake needs the help of the African wild animals in order to succeed. He is led by Elena the chimp toward the water-hole and has a series of adventures along the way. With each adventure, a group of animals and their friends join Jake on his quest.
Upon reaching the water-hole, Jake finds himself imprisoned by the poachers. His last act of kindness completes his challenge to win over all the animals and they band together to free Jake and send the poachers running for their lives.
After a victorious celebration at the village, Jake is transported home where he finds Nia and Elena painted on his wall and peeking at him from behind an acacia tree. At that moment, Jake realizes that his African adventures have only just begun.