April 25, 2012
By Rod Campbell; illus. by author
1-4 Preschool Little Simon 18 pp.
978-1416947370 Board $6.99
Dear Zoo is 25 years old. In honor of its silver anniversary, Rod Campbell refreshed and updated the original illustrations. Happily, they remain as classically appealing as the originals, (nothing substantial was changed). The patterned text is simple and almost universally appealing to toddlers and preschoolers. An unseen narrator, (presumably a child), tells the reader that he wrote to the zoo to send him a pet. So the very obliging zoo-keepers send him a series of animals, each hiding behind a flap. There are clues on each flap as to which animal is in the box, (the elephant's box is labeled "very heavy", the lion is partially visible between the slats, etc.), while below the illustration is the reason that each particular animal won't do, (the giraffe is too tall, the monkey too naughty, and so on). Finally, the zoo sends the perfect pet - a puppy - which the narrator happily keeps.
Dear Zoo is a classic example of an interactive book for toddlers and preschoolers. Great for storytime at libraries or at home, it provides pre-verbal listeners with the opportunity to manipulate the flaps and reveal the surprise of each animal, while slightly older toddlers and preschoolers can guess at the occupant of each box, read the simple text and practice their animal sounds. A classic for a reason, the reissued board book is sturdy enough to withstand the repeated readings and constant handling it will no doubt (deservedly) receive.