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Friday, January 5, 2018

Through With The Zoo, written and illustrated by Jacob Grant. Feiwel and Friends, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2017. $23.99 ages 3 and up

"He would find a
space out there just
for him.

He tried living
with a clingy koala.

He tried living
with a noisy elephant."

We've all had those days! You know the ones when you just want to be alone, and you need to find a place of solace. For me, it happens when too many days in a week have been too busy. I just need a quiet space to think my own thoughts, to bask in the quiet, to recharge and be ready for another day.

Same thing happens for a goat whose 'home' is a petting zoo. He loves it there - most days. A petting zoo is a busy place most days. Parents looking for a place to spend time with their kids; kids looking for something fun and entertaining to do. You know the allure of a place where hugging and petting and grabbing at adorable animals provides just that.

Today proves too much for this little fellow. He has a yearning desire to be like other zoo animals that do not have to endure the constant and close attention given the animals that live in his part of the zoo. He wants to retreat to his own private place where he has a chance to breathe on his own, without little hands clinging to him. He wants his own space!

Off he goes. He finds other zoo animals that  prove clingy, nosy, and attentive to a fault. They want his company, too. It isn't until he stands under a large tree with no other animal in sight that he finally feels peaceful. His place to be alone.

"He looked all around and knew that no one could
get near him anymore.

No little faces, no little hands, no little hugs."

Perfect - or is it?

Using charcoal, crayon and digital coloring, Jacob Grant provides the perfect setting to help young readers understand how confining Goat finds the petting zoo pens. Small square illustrations are set in surrounding white space where there is little room for him to move. His view of the zoo beyond widens out and allows for escape, where the wider spreads offer the feeling of freedom he is trying to capture. There is lots of emotion on display here, and it will not be missed by those who share it.

We all need space and time on our own, and Goat manages to find it for himself - whenever he needs  it. For the rest of the time, he accepts that a hug and connection with others are necessary for a happy, fulfilled life.

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