Animals explore what it means to be remarkable in this earnest, mellow story.
Zanzibar the crow enjoys mushroom omelets, singing (poorly), and spending time with friends. An unexpected knock on the door from a reporter, lizard Achille LeBlab, changes Zanzibar’s course of action when he is forced to confront his humdrum life. After comparing himself to other creatures who can sing, play chess, and dive from great heights, Zanzibar vows to take action and complete a venture worth a write-up in the local newspaper, The Voice of the Forest. To impress LeBlab, Zanzibar sets out on an exceptional journey, heading south on the advice of a sea gull. He meets a fennec fox and a dromedary who coach him through temporary discouragement and celebrate with him when he reaches his goal (to lift the dromedary “with a single wing”). Supportive and thoughtful models of friendship shine in this story, and unexpected vocabulary choices will engage readers. Valckx’s tricolor sketches have a charming vintage feel. However, many adult readers won’t be able to ignore the imagery of a black crow paired inexplicably with an African name, which has problematic historical connotations in the United States if not in France, where this book was first published.
This story about finding the extraordinary in everyone gives readers something to crow about. (Animal fantasy. 5-8)