STARRED REVIEW
August 08, 2011

Animals on stage

By Judy Sierra
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Winter doldrums are wreaking havoc on the zoo animals of Springfield, turning once-chipper critters into grumps. “Owls did not give a hoot. / Pandas quit being cute. / Even penguins were surly. / The zoo gates closed early.” But just as the droopy-necked giraffes cannot droop anymore, a tiny hippo and baby kangaroo start hopping around—and in one turn of the page, all of the animals join in. What begins as a hop becomes a wild bee-bop party, and they decide to put on a zoo musical. That’s right, a ZooZical!

Author Judy Sierra (Mind Your Manners, B.B. Wolf) and illustrator Marc Brown (creator of the Arthur books and television show) proved to be a winning team with their previous fuzzy tale, the award-winning picture book Wild About Books. The combination of toe-tapping rhyme and tropical-colored illustrations in this follow-up will keep any child excited right through to the final scene. 

The townspeople brave the blustery weather to see the animals' performance, but just as the tuxedoed tiny hippo takes center stage, she finds herself frozen in fright! A colossal roar from a tiger gets her hippo-feet a-tapping, and the ZooZical is off—complete with tightrope-walking bears and flying-trapeze flamingoes.

Young readers and listeners will love the animal-adapted musical favorites, as creatures big and small turn familiar songs into zoo-tunes, such as “For he’s a jolly gorilla,” and “Oh my darling, Oh my darling, Oh my darling porcupine.” Kids will join the alligators to sing the alphabet, and sing along with the seals for, “The seals on the bus go round and round . . ." Top it all off with a Zoo Hokey Pokey and take a bow!

Created using gouache on gessoed wood, Brown's pictures feel textured and warm, which adds to the winter-busting jive. ZooZical is Where the Wild Things Are meets Dr. Seuss, with so much excitement it feels almost like Broadway.

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ZooZical

ZooZical

By Judy Sierra
Knopf
ISBN 9780375868474

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