Going to the Zoo
written by Tom Paxton
illustrated by Karen Lee Schmidt

Tom Paxton's Going to the Zoo
Illustrated by Karen Lee Schmidt

Children's book review by Sarah Denslow

Ages 3-8

“Daddy’s taking us to the zoo tomorrow! We can stay all day!” This pronouncement would probably be enough to make any child sing, but Going to the Zoo is actually an illustrated version of Tom Paxton's song of the same name.

(Actually, almost the same name. The song is Goin' to the Zoo.)

In case you’re not familiar with or have forgotten about the song “Goin' to the Zoo”, it details (as you may have guessed) a family’s trip to the zoo with verses about various animals: the big black bear is a huff, huff, a-puffin’, the elephant’s have their long trucks a-swingin’, the monkeys are a scritch, scritch, a-scratchin’. Periodically the chorus breaks in with a celebratory “We’re going to the zoo, zoo, zoo! How about you, you, you?”

Have a listen!

Eventually the journey ends with a verse about being “really sleepy”, but lest the book end on a sad note, we find on the last page that “Mommy’s taking us to the zoo tomorrow!” A particularly apt illustration shows the children celebrating with Mom while Dad is asleep on the couch, tired out after taking three children on a daylong trip.

The book's illustrations are delightful, showing each animal as its verse comes up. In addition, the character of a zookeeper is created and shown on every page taking care of her generally boisterous animals. At the end of the day, she and the animals wave goodbye the children as their car leaves the zoo. On the last page we see her in her pajamas, preparing for bed before another day of work.

Going to the Zoo is a wonderful book to help children learn about animals, get them excited about a trip to the zoo, or just have a lot of fun. Even though it might seem a little long for younger children, we sing it with the toddlers at school, and they love it (not to mention sit through it!). In fact, it’s very hard not to love this sing-able book. You may find yourself singing about going to the zoo even when your kids aren’t around.

Read more of Sarah's book reviews.

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