Calm Down, Zebra by Lou Kuenzler is a deceptively simple tale of a boy, new to the neighbourhood, trying to join in with those around him, will charm, engage and prompt deep thinking in young readers. This picturebook sees the return of the incredibly excitable Zebra and Annie with her paints of Not Yet Zebra, which was a fun rhyming picture book in which Annie is painting an animal alphabet, and Zebra gets in the way. This new book is once again full of rhymes, colours and animals with Annie trying to teach colours to her young friend, Joe, and Zebra deciding to join in to paint all the animals different colours and patterns.
Much like Jordan Wray’s Rosa Draws, this is more than just a rhyming picture book about colours. It is also about imagination and creativity. As the story progresses, the painting gets messier and more colourful, with a giraffe covered in multi-coloured flowers and a peacock covered in shimmering silver and gold. By the end, Annie sees that this kind of painting is fun and encourages everyone to come together to create their own art.
With its rhyming patterns throughout, Calm Down, Zebra is a great read-aloud book for 3-5-year-olds. It also has excellent potential for colour and animal recognition while, at the same time, encourages us to have fun and be bold and creative in colour and patterns when we paint ourselves. It is a picturebook full of bold and colourful illustrations throughout by the talented Julia Woolf that I am sure will inspire some follow-up painting activity after reading.
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