________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 14 . . . . March 18, 2005

cover The Zoo at Night.

Michael Rosen. Illustrated by Bee Willey.
Vancouver, BC: Tradewind Books, 2003.
12 pp., board, $13.95.
ISBN 1-896580-00-9.

Subject Headings:
Zoo animals-Juvenile poetry.
Children's poetry, English.

Preschool-grade 2 / Ages 4-7.

Review by Lorraine Douglas.

*** /4


On moonlight nights when the sky is clear,
Larry the lion strolls up to his gates,
flicks the lock with his bottom teeth
and gallops away to see his mates.

Michael Rosen is a well-known contemporary British children's poet and writer who often speaks at educational conferences and is active in promoting literacy. Perhaps his best-known work in North America is his retelling of We're Going on a Bear Hunt illustrated by Helen Oxenbury (Walker, 1989). Rosen has written and edited numerous books of poetry for children, and he and Bee Willey previously collaborated on Michael Rosen's ABC (Millbrook, 1996).

     This sturdy accordion style book folds out to a length of more than six feet to display poems and bright illustrations about the zoo and its animals. When the zoo keepers have gone to bed, all of the animals engage in silly pranks. The funny poems feature such antics as a penguin wearing glasses and a rhino doing ballet. Each of the ten poems is set on a panel, and they are all short and snappy in their rhythm and playfulness.

     The strong brightly coloured illustrations by Bee Willey are in fresh colours like viridian, turquoise and yellow. The people visiting the zoo really pop out on the page with the artist's use of red in their rosy apple cheek and their clothes. The cartoon character of the illustrations perfectly complements the light and sassy poetry, and the combination of appealing poetry and illustration is reminiscent of Loris Lesynski and her poetry books. Bee Willey is a British illustrator, and her work has appeared in many children's books including Irish Myths and Legends retold by Ita Daly (Oxford, 2001).

     This book could be used for attractive displays in libraries as the book easily stands on its end. It is also a novelty gift item as children could use it to act out the poems with their plastic zoo animal toys. It could be used at library story times with the theme of "Night" or "Zoo Animals," and children will like watching the pages unfold. It is not the usual kind of item for circulation in a library and might require some special handling to prepare it for circulation. This is not an essential purchase for a library, but it is a nice introduction for young children to poetry.


Lorraine Douglas of Winnipeg, MB, is an artist and writer.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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