Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Zoo Boy by Sophie Thompson illustrated by Rebecca Ashdown

Hello, dear reader.
Are you sitting, lying down, standing on your head, eating a jam sandwich comfortably?
Then I'll begin ...

Zoo Boy is one of those little books you might miss in all the flurry of new books arriving in our school library and that would be such a pity because this little book is terrific.  Yes it is a very funny little story of a boy who can talk to the animals in the zoo but it is also a poignant tale about the power of giving and gratitude.  It also contains the most delicious words such as scurrilous, mollycoddled and deplorable.

Zoo boy Vince lives beside a zoo. His dad is the zoo keeper and entry to the zoo is via a special Zoo Keepers' Song.  Today Vince has turned eight so it is time to join his dad in the zoo.

"Vince felt like the king of the castle  But before he had time to gloat and imagine all the ermine on his cloak and how big his crown should be, an enormous badger who smelt of old socks appeared from the scrubby shrubbery."

Vince discovers he has grandad's gift - the gift of understanding the language of animals.  This is thrilling but it is also a huge responsibility as the animals gather around Vince and make their demands.  These demands might surprise you :

Penguin - fish fingers
Flamingo - Battenberg Cake - the pink bits
Pig - free range eggs
Owl - sugar mice
Llama - Sherbet lemons
Goat - clover and denim shorts

Luckily down the road there is an Everything You Could Possibly Want For 99p Unless It's Slightly More Expensive Shop. The owner of the shop is "a ridiculously cheerful man called Leviticus Corkindale Percival Calamine Periwig Candlewick Throooob. But everyone just called him Bob."

I also adore the character names used by Sophie Thompson (an English actress) such as Fenella (flamingo), Horace (the helpful wild badger), Asquith (penguin) and Terry (orangutan).

There is so much to love about this book and I think it would make an excellent read-a-loud title for a Grade One or Two class.   When you pick up this book you might like to begin with pages 85 and 86. Events towards the end of this book are so distressing (dear reader) that the narrator inserts an early ending to spare you any pain.

If I haven't convinced you to read this book think about bunting made from a long string of stolen undies all lit by fireflies. Such fun!

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