A young boy narrates a trip to the zoo with Dad, but who’s the kid and who’s the adult?
Readers get their first clue that this isn’t a standard parent-child picture book on the opening spread. No people are visible, but a Victrola’s horn sneaks through a door, startling the dog (and maybe readers) with a blaring: “everybody up! I want to go to the ZOO!” From then, it’s constant motion, the father doing his best galloping-camel imitation all the way to the zoo, his still-sleepy (and pajama-clad) son hanging on for dear life. By the third spread, readers will know that the roles of father and child are reversed. The longer the two wait in line for tickets, “the more ideas [Dad] has about how to cut the line.” Dad races around the enclosures with the boy lagging behind before having a meltdown over ice cream; these behaviors—and the child’s desperate attempts to distract Dad—will be quite familiar (and hysterical) to parents of small children. There’s even the final, most terrible ordeal: the gift shop! “The galloping camel has turned into a sluggish snail. And me? I’m wiped out.” Di Giacomo’s naively done illustrations in muted earth tones are quite unlike what’s normally found in bright, splashy picture books, but they fit this one perfectly, playing up the humor of a Dad who just can’t be still.
A tongue-in-cheek masterpiece echoing most parents’ outings with small children. (Picture book. 4-8)