Rod Campbell's Dear Zoo
Book review by Sarah Denslow
Would zoo animals make good pets?
“I wrote to the zoo to send me a pet,” begins this pop-up story about finding just the right pet.
What child hasn’t wished they had an ally in the staff of the zoo or dreamed of having their very own giraffe? I myself always wanted a zebra. Dear Zoo shows this wish coming true, but also why zoo animals don’t make the best pets.
The zoo sends the narrator an elephant. He’s too big! The narrator sends him back. A series of potential pets sent by the well-intentioned zoo staff follows, but none quite work.
The giraffe is too tall. The frog is too jumpy. The snake is too scary. The camel is too grumpy. They are all sent back.
Finally, the zoo staff thinks very hard and sends a dog. He’s perfect! The narrator keeps him and we are left to consider the merits of conventional pets.
Dear Zoo has few words and simple illustrations. However, for all its simplicity, it is a wonderfully entertaining book. The language is straight forward, yet engaging. The animals come in crates that must be opened to reveal each new animal.
Children love the suspense this creates, not to mention getting to lift the flaps.
Dear Zoo is a wonderful book for the very young. It’s a quick read, and great for keeping children engaged during brief waiting periods. We use it a lot at school when we have the kids ready for dismissal a few minutes too early.
As often as we read it, though, they always love it.
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