Perfect Picture Book Friday – What’s New at the Zoo?

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What’s New at the Zoo

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.

For more books with resources for teachers and parents, please visit Perfect Picture Books on Susanna Leonard Hill’s blog.

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21 Responses to Perfect Picture Book Friday – What’s New at the Zoo?

  1. This sounds like such fun, Joanna! (despite the fact that I know another song by the same name, from a kid’s musical I was in when I was eleven, and it will be circling around in my brain for quite some time!)

  2. Joanna, I bet kids really have fun with this book! What a fun entry. And, they also learn about respecting each other’s space. Will check out the CD. It sounds like such a wonderful activity for kids to act out. Love this selection!

  3. I love do re mi! 🙂 Looks like a super-fun book!

  4. I love zany books, but I’m not sure we’re up to singing in my house just yet.

  5. Cool post! I really want to read the book now!

  6. This sounds like a very cool book. Anything with animals is sure to delight kids. I can just hear them laughing over this story. Thankyou Joanna.

  7. Susanna says:

    I just saw a review of this on top books of the year or somewhere but I haven’t read it yet. It sounds like a real treat – especially visually!

  8. This book sounds great for my Kinders, Joanna! They take a field trip to the local zoo every spring. Books with repetition are prefect for young readers-I can already hear my kids chanting, “Let me out!” 🙂 I also like the “mystery flap” concept. WIll have to get this one for sure! Thank you for sharing 🙂

  9. Joanna says:

    Great, Kelly. It really is a winner to combine with a zoo visit.

  10. This sounds right up my street, I love writing silly poems about zoo animals, and those are cheeky! Thanks for sharing Joanna, I must check that book out!

  11. Joanna says:

    Catherine, am pretty sure you’ll love this one. 😉

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