Fiona’s Train Ride

Zonderkidz. (I Can Read 1). May 2022. 32p. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780310763291; pap. $4.99. ISBN 9780310763116.
K-Gr 2–Fiona, the famous baby hippo from the Cincinnati Zoo, is the main character in this Level 1 “I Can Read” title. When Fiona learns that a baby red panda has been born, she is excited to meet the zoo’s new arrival. However, some of her friends, especially Sloth and Tortoise, are not excited to walk across the entire zoo. When the friends discover the zoo train, they see an easy way around the problem: They will drive the train across the zoo to meet the new red panda. With simple text and few short sentences per page, this book is accessible to beginning readers. The plot is entertaining as Fiona and her friends experience many foibles while traversing the zoo. The watercolorlike illustrations depict the animals in a way that draw readers in. However, while Fiona is drawn with especially cute expressions, the wrinkles of her skin are colored strangely. Readers may find it unsettling that the animals don’t get in trouble for driving the train across the zoo by themselves, but this element of the plot is presented as an example of ingenuity and perseverance to solve a problem rather than as mischief.
VERDICT A worthy addition to early reader collections.

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