Friday, February 19, 2010

Book Review (Kids): If Anything Ever Goes Wrong at the Zoo ... by Mary Jean Hendrick

If Anything Ever Goes Wrong at the Zoo
written by Mary Jean Hendrick and illustrated by Jane Dyer

My 8 year old daughter Betty wants to be a zookeeper. Or a veterinarian. She's very compassionate towards animals and seems to have an intuitive sense about them. She's always asking to go to the zoo and visit her favorite animal, a tiger named Ashley, and she talks about Ashley and Kira (the tiger at the Philadelphia Zoo) as if they were our pets.

So that's what makes If Anything Ever Goes Wrong at the Zoo one of her favorite picture books.

In this book, Leslie and her mom visit the zoo every Saturday, and on each visit, Leslie chats up a different animal handler. She inquires about the zebras, the monkeys, the elephants. And to each person, Leslie makes a benevolent offer.

"If anything ever goes wrong at the zoo," she offers. "You can send the zebras to my house."

Along with the monkeys, the elephants, and every other species.

Not surprisingly, the animals stay put, the handlers having things at zoo under control. Until one day a rainstorm floods the zoo and they turn to Leslie for help. First the zebras arrive, then the monkeys and elephants.

"All night long the animals came. There was a lion in the closet. An alligator splashed in the tub."

If Anything Ever Goes Wrong at the Zoo ... is a cute picture book that plays to kids' imaginations about having a menagerie of their very own. It's probably best suited for preschoolers (my kids were probably slightly too old for this one, but we had to check it out of the library because of "zoo" being in the title.)

Still, an enjoyable story that could prompt fun "what-if" questions ("What if an orangutan came to our house? Where would she sleep?"), guaranteed to produce giggles and silliness galore.

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