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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Fraidyzoo, written and illustrated by Thyra Heder. Abrams Books for Young Readers. 2013. $18.95 ages 5 and up

"WAKE UP, Little T!
Today is the PERFECT
day for the zoo!


We could be the FIRST ones
Hurry up!
What if there is a

Who thinks of such imaginative and entertaining stories for children?

Thyra Heder does. She makes one incredible debut with her seemingly common place tale of a family's trip to the zoo! Many readers will have been to the zoo, while others might find this their first foray into a zoo's environs. It is a perfect substitute if you don't have one nearby, or it's too cold yet, or you have a child (like Little T) who has a fear about being there.

Everyone is ready for the family outing when Little T makes her voice heard:

"So...What if someone was AFRAID of going to the zoo?"

She knows she's afraid, and she can't remember why. In her loving and dramatic family, her feelings are understood and honored. To try to help her remember which is the scary animal that has her not wanting to make a return visit, they begin a brilliant alphabetic animal guessing game. It starts with an alligator: Dad uses his arms and outstretched fingers to imitate the alligator's always menacing jaw. As they move from bull to camel, to deer, elephant and flamingo, the costumes (fashioned from everyday materials sure to be found in most homes) become more elaborate and hilarious.

The day moves forward, the guessing game continues, and Little T remains unafraid of those animals being portrayed. At the end of the day, as bedtime nears, she has one more question:

"So...What if someone WANTED to go to the zoo?"

What about tomorrow? Following sweet slumber, the family is off on their adventure. Before they even make their way through the gate, Little T. remembers the scariest thing. It is the perfect surprise ending for everyone, including big sister!

I cannot begin to describe the joy that saturates every single page of this wonderful book. I have read it again and again, wanting so badly to share it with someone on a daily basis. This is a family that oozes love and caring. Lively imagination is rampant on every page. When you have finished sharing it, be prepared for a day filled with object collecting and artistic endeavor! Don't miss the final endpapers to ensure that all of your guesses about the animals portrayed throughout are correct.



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