What could be more exciting than discovering a hidden door in your bedroom that opens to a secret passageway to the zoo?
With characteristic simplicity and economy of line, veteran illustrator Burningham conveys the wonder of Sylvie’s discovery, thus fulfilling a common childhood fantasy—to bring real, live zoo animals into your room and have them sleep in your bed. Sylvie visits the zoo every evening, chooses an animal and brings it to her room. Some are small enough to fit comfortably in her bed. Others are more problematic; a monkey steals things, the penguins splash noisily, and even the baby elephant is too big. Pandemonium erupts when one day Sylvie forgets to close the secret door and finds the animals crowded into her living room after school. The shy little girl finds a big voice within herself and bellows at the animals, who exit in a hurry. Sylvie rushes to clean up the mess before her mother gets home, setting up an innocent parental punch line: “[I]t looks as if you had the whole zoo in here!” Luckily, the way to the zoo remains a secret, and the animals can still visit her at night.
As in so many of his other books, Burningham’s appeal lies in his ability to invent a fantasy scenario available only to young children, accomplishing it again here with consummate grace.(Picture book. 2-5)