A visit to an unusual zoo sparks the imagination of an inquisitive little brown-skinned boy out with his white grandfather.
Boldly colored animals (and people) stand out in Hoogstad’s layered illustrations, which carry much of the book’s meaning. Each two-page spread (there are 12 in all) is quite busy, with fine, colored lines delineating environments on a predominantly white background. The boy and his grandfather walk through the gates of the zoo, and an array of colorful animals is there to greet them. The little boy wonders about animal spots and stripes; the background changes to place him and grandpa in an artist’s studio, where painters put spots on the giraffes and stripes on the zebras. An eye doctor’s office is the setting for two bright peacocks that are having the eyes in their tails examined. The ice blue polar bear stands among many tables of outdoor diners: “And when they’re faced with summer’s heat, / do polar bears eat summer treats?” Additional small pictures that suit the theme run around the perimeters of some pages, and the humans pictured are of many genders and ethnicities. But where the book’s design and illustrations enchant, the couplets do not. (Irritatingly, many are improperly punctuated as well as forced.)
Poor text makes skipping this zoo trip advisable. (Picture book. 3-6)