The Way to the Zoo

illus. by John Burningham. 40p. Candlewick. 2014. RTE $15.99. ISBN 9780763673178. LC 2013952847.
PreS-Gr 1—What could be more wonderful for Sylvie than discovering a secret door in her bedroom that leads down a passageway right to a zoo? After taking home a little bear for a sleepover the first night, the other animals all want to do the same. The smaller animals fit right in, while others are less successful (the penguins make a splashy mess, the monkeys tend to steal things, the rhino is too big for the bed). All goes well until, in a rush to get to school one morning, Sylvie forgets to close the secret door. When she comes home, she finds all of the animals sprawled about the living room watching TV. She promptly shoos them back and gets the house almost presentable when her dismayed mom returns and shouts, "All I have to do is leave you at home while I go out for awhile and it looks as if you had the whole zoo in here." The sketchy pen, pencil, pastel and watercolor illustrations are set against expansive white space that frames the action from page to page. Text and art work seamlessly together in this tale that mirrors the secret dreams of many imaginative children.—Marge Loch-Wouters, La Crosse Public Library, WI
Sylvie discovers a door to the zoo in her bedroom and begins bringing animals home, but--being an orderly child--just a few at a time. When she forgets to close the door, a crowd of creatures troops in to watch television. Sylvie's arrangements have both the childlike logic and the solid reality of the best fantasy. Masterfully limned drawings feature harmonious hues.
"All I have to do is leave you at home when I go out for a while and it looks as if you had the whole zoo in here!" cries Sylvie's mother. Actually, there had been a zoo's worth of creatures in the living room, though not by Sylvie's intent. Nights ago, she found the zoo down a passage behind a door in her bedroom. She's been bringing animals back for the night, but -- being an orderly child -- just a few at a time, and "only the smaller ones." She did settle a mother tiger in a chair while her cub shared the bed, but ruled out penguins because they splashed too much. Then, just once, after Sylvie forgot to close the door, a whole crowd of creatures trooped in to watch television; still, she tried to clean up after them. With the true Burningham touch, Sylvie's arrangements have both the impeccable childlike logic and the solid reality of the best fantasy. His loose, masterfully limned drawings are touched with scrumptious, harmonious hues -- pure blue with elegant chartreuse, a black-raspberry chair with turquoise legs, various animals in benignly soft browns and grays. Just the thing to pair with other mayhem scenarios such as in The Cat in the Hat. joanna rudge long

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