A parade, a party and a panda veer tenuously close to a disastrous fiasco in this charming sequel.
Mr. Peek returns for his second adventure (Mr. Peek and the Misunderstanding at the Zoo, 2011). The zoo is welcoming the birth of a new baby panda, and its zookeeper wants to celebrate in style. As he tells his son, Jimmy, he wants everything to be “tickety-boo for our big day at Peek Zoo!” But while Jimmy does his chores to the letter, Mr. Peek has a tendency to get distracted. He singlehandedly paints some highly perturbed tortoises’ shells black, nearly gives his polar bear heatstroke and manages to allow the new baby a means of escape. The near catastrophe is saved in the end by (who else?) Jimmy, and all is declared a grand success. The story comes shockingly, delightfully close to true horror (the baby panda is at one point within a hair’s breadth of becoming lion food) but wraps up neatly by the end. The accompanying digital art resonates with the influence of 1960s designers and fizzes with energy. It’s a true shame, though, that the attending hordes of visitors are disconcertingly, universally white.
In spite of this misfire, few will be able to resist this sweet tale of adult incompetence and youthful problem-solving skills. (Picture book. 4-7)