In this picture book, animals at the zoo have a lively night while the zookeeper sleeps.
In singsong, rhyming text, Hutton presents a fanciful story of zoo animals cavorting and carousing instead of going to sleep. And why are the animals not cooperating with bedtime expectations? Because the elderly zookeeper is asleep in bed, complete with eye mask (here’s hoping their leopard-spot design, and that of her curtains, derives from printed fabric and not from actual leopard pelts). Naturally, the animals use this freedom from supervision to party. Young readers will definitely relate. Many types of animals are presented in Hutton’s breezy rhymes, and their behavior is a transparent stand-in for human children’s: “On their beds jump kangaroos. Silly monkeys swinging too.” Cenko’s colorful illustrations, all full-bleed single- or double-page spreads, do a good job of capturing the rambunctious crew with amusing details and without overdone anthropomorphization. There is, however, a certain sameness to the presentation (animals enacting hijinks in spread after spread) that grows old. A bedtime story for children that familiarizes them with animals is a worthy objective, but presenting the notion that animals in zoos are having a wonderful time is a concept that may well not sit right with many readers. Backmatter does, however, present some physiological facts about the animals.
A breezy, rhyming story with competent illustrations but with an unquestioned anthropocentric presentation. (Picture book. 2-5)