Through with the Zoo

illus. by Jacob Grant. 40p. Feiwel & Friends. Nov. 2017. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9781250108142.
PreS-Gr 1—Goat lives in a petting zoo, and is fed up with all the "grabby little hands" hugging and rubbing him. When he notices the animals in the big zoo, he heads there to find a space "just for him." But the big zoo has its own set of challenges. The koala is clingy. The penguins like to cluster and the monkeys groom him like one of their own. Running away, Goat finds a lone tree to climb—respite, finally! But being alone can be lonely too, and Goat returns to the petting zoo; "everyone needs a hug now and then." The predictable story is improved by its simple sentences and well-matched illustrations. Grant's warm-toned, digitally colored crayon-and-charcoal illustrations add depth and context to the story arc. All the drawings are framed in white space while Goat is in the petting zoo—he's boxed in. When he makes a break for it, he leaps out of the frame and into full-page spreads with white backgrounds representing the big zoo. When even that is too much togetherness, he explores farther afield and the background darkens; he is left in pages of full color. Back home at the petting zoo the tones lighten again. But Goat is the star of this visual show. Like Mo Willems's Pigeon, his whole internal process shows in his eyes. Everyone can relate to the need to grow, and the appreciation for familiarity.
VERDICT A lovely storytime selection for larger collections.

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