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Gelman, Rita Golden
Illustrated by Maryann Kovalski Richmond Hill (Ont.), North Winds Press, 1993. 32pp, laminated boards, $14.95
ISBN 0-590-74619-7. Distributed by Scholastic Canada. CIP

Pre-school to Grade 2/Ages 2 to 7

Reviewed by B. Henley

Volume 21 Number 6
1993 November

Rita Golden Gelman has written over sixty books for children and her latest one, entitled I Went to the Zoo, should be a big hit. She obviously knows what young readers like, for this story combines much rhythm, rhyme and repetition with humour and whimsy.

The story is simple a boy visits the zoo, and, thinking that all the animals are bored, opens their cages and leads them to his home. But it is the way the story builds that captures the delight of children. Adults will find it reminiscent of rhymes such as "I Know an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly" or "The House That Jack Built," Each page, with the exception of the ending, begins with

The other day I went to the zoo.
I don't know why I went to the zoo.
It was a silly thing to do.

and the story moves along by introducing more animals and their actions, as in "The pandas were sitting. The camels were spitting."

The treatment of the story is imaginative. All prose is on the left, even on the double-page spreads, and the wonderful illustrations cover the entire right side. Of course, as more animals are added, the illustrations become busier and more colourful. The rhythm also quickens, and the rhyme changes.

The ending is predictable but funny. Once his house is destroyed and the animals are safely back, the boy declares that his visit to the zoo was "a wonderful thing to do"!

I Went to the Zoo will be pure fun for many young people those who have it read to them, and those learning to read. Younger children will delight in finding the various animals in the pictures, and older readers will love mastering the sing-song rhyme.

B. Henley is Head Librarian at Brantford Collegiate and Vocational School in Brantford, Ontario
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