Written by Betty Comden and Adolph Green and illustrated by Travis Foster
Blue Apple Books, 2011, Fiction
Suitable for: ages 3-7
Themes/Topics: Even in crowded conditions can’t they all just get along? Strong visuals for imaginative thinking. Zoo animals.
Opening and brief synopsis: It begins, ” ‘Ouch! You’re stepping on my pouch!’ to the bear said the kangaroo.”An initial double-page spread shows dozens of frustrated animals—walrus and crab and monkey and gnu and others—crammed too close and uttering expletives. The whimsical lyrics of the title song by Comden and Green (from the 1960 musical Do Re Mi) actually are the successful text of this book.
Why I Like This Book: “Let us out! Let us out!” becomes the repeated chorus that kids will chant. The porcupine steps on the wolf’s chops as the swine steps on his quills. This story is just full of rioutous mishaps and ingenious illustrations with cartoonish animals in an explosion of color. A few of pages have flaps with surprises underneath. The whole book is packed with fun and colour for little ones.
Activities and Resources : A visit to the local zoo. Green’s widow, Phyllis Newman (of Broadway and TV-game-show fame) adds an appealing introduction and afterword about the true inspiration of Central Park Zoo. If readers want to hear the song, the original cast CD is available, though it might be more fun to find the sheet music and let kids perform it themselves—singing this song would certainly be a great preview or follow-up to a zoo visit.