Friday, June 8, 2012

Perfect Picture Book Friday: ZooZical!

For several months I've been meaning to blog about the book ZooZical for Perfect Picture Book Friday, which is a day each week when bloggers come together to celebrate and share the picture books they love. Everyone posts using the same general format, and then children's author Susanna Leonard Hill (who came up with the idea) archives all the posts on her blog. 

The archive, which is mostly organized by theme, has become a fabulous resource for teachers and parents looking for "perfect" books to integrate into their lesson plans and story times. You can access the full archive here.

When I was looking through the archive to make sure ZooZical hadn't been featured yet, I did come across a post about another book by the same dynamic duo who created ZooZical. That book, called Wild About Books, is a prequel of sorts to ZooZical. You can check out the Perfect Picture Book Friday post about it here.

And finally, I am very grateful to Random House Children's Books for sending me a review copy of ZooZical. Thanks so much for letting me experience this joyous book!

General Information
  • Title: ZooZical
  • Author: Judy Sierra
  • Illustrator: Marc Brown
  • Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf (Random House)
  • Date of publication: 2011
  • Genre: Fiction
  • Age: 2-8

  • Animals
  • Arts (music, dance, theatre)
  • Community
  • Friendship

Opening and Synopsis

One blustery morning when frosty winds blew, 
When families stayed home, and when field trips were few, 
The midwinter doldrums arrived at the zoo.

The winter months have kept visitors away from the zoo, and the zoo animals are lonely. They've lost their spunk! That is, until a little hippo and a young kangaroo start hopping and then dancing around the zoo. Before they know it, these two new friends have energized the rest of the animals, who discover their own hidden talents for singing, dancing, and acrobatics. Together, the zoo animals decide to develop and put on a "zoozical" to entice more people to visit the zoo. And it works!

It was one of those times that you hope never ends, 
When penguins and pandas and pythons are friends, 
When tigers don't bite, then the doldrums take flight, 
On a magical, musical ZooZical night!

Why I Like This Book
  • The illustrations in this book are incredibly endearing. When the animals are sad and lonely in the beginning of the book, their facial expressions and body language make them look soooo sad and lonely. And when they pep up and start putting the zoozical together, they look soooo happy and glad to be together.  
  • One of my favorite parts of the artwork is the way the elephants are drawn, with a variety of blue and purple stripes on their ears and trunks. So cute! I also really love the end pages, which contain empty measures of music (drawn in blue on a yellow background) with animals (outlined in red) dancing through them. 
  • The rhyming pattern changes a few times in the book, and I had a little trouble figuring it out sometimes. You could almost read the book as if it weren't in rhyme--pausing when you want to pause instead of trying to stay with the meter--and it would still be delightful. No matter how you read it, the book exudes a great deal of joy and a feeling of togetherness that are hard to ignore.
  • The songs the animals choose to sing are ones that most young children will be familiar with. Because of this familiarity, they will also probably get a kick out of the fun play on words in the songs. Some examples are "Oh my darling, oh my darling, oh my darling porcupine..." and "It's a tall world after all..." sung by the giraffes of course. "The seals on the bus go round and round" is another one that made me laugh!
  • Although the book takes place in the winter, it would be a delightful book for any time of the year. Especially on a snowy or rainy day, it could inspire children to come up with their own entertaining ideas to liven things up!  

  • Random House has put together some great lesson plans and activities to go along with ZooZical for kids in pre-kindergarten through third grade. The packet also introduces readers to a variety of other books by Judy Sierra and Marc Brown.
  • This one-page flyer, also from Random House, gives some ideas for using content from the book to make up a musical of your own! 


  1. Happy Birthday Judy Sierra! I have wanting to read this book! I am going to put it on our summer reading list!

    Thanks for posting on Facebook that you featured this book!

    1. Hi, Eric. Thank YOU for posting about Judy Sierra's birthday, too. I've seriously been meaning to post about ZooZical for months, so it's kind of funny that I finally posted it today of all days. Have a great weekend, and can't wait to see who's birthday you celebrate next!

  2. Love the theme of this book. There is the Great American Mouse Musical, now a book about animals putting on a musical. the idea. This is a book you wonder, why didn't I think of that. Great choice.

    1. Thanks, Patricia. I did in fact think "Darn! I wish I had thought of that!" when I heard about this book :)

  3. Ha, ha! I chose between my ZooZical and Animal Masquerade reviews today! AM won today! So glad to see your review - much more worthy of the book than my sparse one!

    1. Oh, my gosh. You know, I was so nervous when I checked the PPBF archive because I thought someone might have already posted about this book. I was so relieved when I found out they hadn't. That would have been fun if we had posted about the same book, though :) Going to check out Animal Masquerade now. It sounds like fun, too!

  4. The title alone - Zoozical was enough to capture my attention. Sounds like a lovely book and perfect for a group read aloud. Just ordered from the library. thanks

    1. Awesome. And that's great that your library has it. I hope you like it!

  5. Those familiar songs sound hilarious. I was interested to read that a slightly odd-metered rhyme was published because the story is just so fun. A zoozical sounds like such an awesome way to get rid of those midwinter blues!

    1. Hi, Joanna. I just read a bunch more reviews of this book, and most of them loved the rhythm and rhyme. So maybe it is just me! Let me know what you think if you get a chance to read the book. I agree it is very rhythmical and so so much fun...I just had a hard time finding the rhythm sometimes :)

  6. Excellent comprehensive review!I will need to go find it now! Thanks for adding it to PPBF.

  7. What a fun book! We have lots of trips to the zoo planned for the summer. I'll have to add this one to our "too read" stack. Thanks Kerry!

    1. Hi, Kirsten. Have you heard of ANIMAL STRIKE AT THE ZOO by Karma Wilson? If not, it's another fun one to consider adding to your zoo list!

  8. Sounds like a great book. Can't wait to read it. I love rhyme.

    1. Thanks for stopping by, Carol. I hope you are able to find this book. I love rhyme, too. Rhyming picture books are my favorite :)


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