Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Review of "The Zoo"

The Zoo
Written and Illustrated by Suzy Lee
Kane/Miller Books
Available Here

What child does not love going to the zoo? For me, when I was growing up, the St. Louis Zoo, the closest zoo, was about 2 hours away from home. We only had a chance to visit it once or twice per year. I love the zoo, and this book really illustrates how magical the zoo can be to a child. Children rarely notice the heat, the smell of the monkey house, the crowded parking lot, or the pricey concessions. To a child, a zoo is pure paradise.

In this book by Suzy Lee, a small girl visits a zoo with her parents. The illustrations are so striking. When the girl and her parents visit an exhibit, every things seems dark. The pencil drawings use little color, mainly blues, greys, and other muted tones. However, the girl quickly wanders off to explore, and wherever the girl goes, a plethora of gorgeous colors follow. The colors seem other-worldly, with blue monkeys, purple elephants, green giraffes, and birds of all colors. The panic on the faces of the parents is clearly marked, as is the glee of the small explorer. Happily, everyone is reunited at the end, and the little girl comes away with a strong love for the zoo, and the animals contained within.

This book is so beautiful, and it is it's simplicity that makes it so. There is no need for eloquent words or high-tech collages. Simple, yet incredibly well defined, Lee's pencil and crayon illustrations are perfectly combined with the sparse prose. This is a wonderful book for parents and children to enjoy together.

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