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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Wild About You, written by Judy Sierra and illustrated by Marc Brown. Alfred A. Knopf, Random House. 2012. $20.99 ages 3 and up

"I haven't got space in my
nest," screeched the hawk.
The tree kangaroo scrambled
forward to snatch it.
She said, "I have room in my
pouch, I will hatch it.
No matter what kind of a bird
it might be,
It can live in my tree and sing
sweetly to me."

What fun it is to have Judy Sierra and Marc Brown return to the Springfield Zoo, with babies in mind. Be sure to check out its predecessors: Wild About Books (Knopf, 2004) and ZooZical (Knopf, 2011)!

In their new book, the focus is on a tree kangaroo and a panda pair, childless and longing for new additions to their families. It is the time of year for new arrivals, but not for everyone. So, an animal rescue van is watched with great attention when it drives into the zoo, bent on a mission to find a home for an endangered egg. The many birds who are gathered have every reason in the world not to help. The tree kangaroo, however, would be delighted:

"She kept the egg cozy for week after week,
Till she heard the tap-tap of her new baby's beak.
"I've hatched out a penguin," she said. "Oh my word.
I wasn't expecting this sort of a bird."

Of course, they fall for each other and the tree kangaroo is homey and happy. Every animal in the zoo is prepared to help in the rearing of this newest resident.  The kangaroo and penguin find love and comfort in one another and all is well.

But, what about the pandas? They are not so happy, until a tiny stray makes its presence known. Papa Panda is intrigued:

"You're a kind of a sort of a cat of a bear.
You're roly. You're poly. You're quite pandalicious.
Yes, you are the answer to our wildest wishes."

Can't you just hear yourself tapping your toes and slapping your thighs as you share this book with children? Of course, you can. The subject, animals and adoption, is bound to capture their attention. The clever verses will beg repetition. The love exhibited and sense of community created to care for the youngsters is lively and lovely. The brightly colored, patterned pages will keep listeners attentive and engaged as the story unfolds, and even allow for a frantic search when the new little ones, unfamiliar with their surroundings, lose sight of their parents. Kids will be quick to help them home. The final double page spread provides an 'all's well that ends well' moment.

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