Reviews /

The Zoo inside Me

Authored by Ruth Doyle
Illustrated by Yessica Baeten
Published by Anderson Press

When I looked at the vibrant cover of this book I wondered if this was yet another animal book. However, I was drawn in by the colourful array of characters in particular the little reader in the bottom corner and the wonderful blue elephant at the top. I was even more excited when I opened the book to see wonderful end papers with childlike animal images dotted around. A real treat and a very good start to attracting interest from little ones. Just in the endpapers alone there is a lot to talk about and discuss.

The illustrations throughout are really lovely. Bright, colourful, stylized and full of movement and energy. The text is clear and weaves its way nicely around the images. I like the fact that it isn’t always along the bottom of the page. It gives the story flow. Although busy, the illustrations are fun and not too complicated. There are some wonderful facial expressions that can prompt conversations about emotions. The ladies in the swimming pool particularly appealed to me. I really liked the ‘splash’ of water pages. The movement of the water on these pages is terrific.

Essentially the story is about being different and being understood. We are all different, but we all want to be liked and want to fit in in some way. This little boy shows us all his different personalities, or his ‘half hidden zoo’ throughout the story. Using animal analogies, we see his personality. He is part Dolphin, part Mustang, part Chameleon but essentially, he is a little boy who wants to play.

It is not a complicated story, but it does have a big message and I think it is a great stimulus for group/class discussion. I left it in the staffroom at work (We have a picture book of the week) and everyone thought it was terrific.

I think this book would appeal to nursery and preschool children and would be a great addition to their collection.