Review of Zoobilations!

Zoobilations! Zoobilations!
by Douglas Florian; illus. by the author
Primary    Beach Lane/Simon    48 pp.    g
3/22    978-1-5344-6590-9    $17.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5344-6591-6    $10.99

Florian returns to the zoo (zoo’s who, rev. 5/05) with twenty new pithy and jubilant poems about animals. Some of the poems are peppered with interesting facts, such as “The African Elephant”: “Each tusk can weigh / more than a man / (and measure just as long).” Occasionally a standalone couplet creates the space for sheer silliness: “I wanted to write a poem on an antelope. / But I cantaloupe.” Each of the poems incorporates clever wordplay to create an ultimate punch line, while Florian’s characteristically rough-textured art, with its thick ­crayonlike lines and deep colors, plays up the joke. The illustration accompanying “The Midwife Toad” shows a male toad loaded down with eggs on his back and with a “World’s Best Dad” hat on his head. “The Hammerhead Shark” declares, “I hunt for squid or bass or ray– / my hammer head nails down my prey,” and the illustration depicts a shark using its head to hammer some nails into a board. The wide range of creatures—from centipedes and seagulls to mandrills and flying foxes—offers young readers familiar specimens as well as some less well-known ones. Florian’s experimentation with word meanings and usage models how to have fun with writing, imagery, and verse.

From the March/April 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Julie Roach

Julie Roach

Julie Roach, chair of the 2020 Caldecott Committee, manages youth services at the Cambridge Public Library in Massachusetts. She also teaches children’s literature at Simmons University’s Graduate School of Library and Information Science and at Lesley University.

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