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ZOO SCHOOL by Laurie Miller Hornik


by Laurie Miller Hornik & illustrated by Debbie Tilley

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: May 24th, 2004
ISBN: 0-618-34204-4
Publisher: Clarion

“Let the animals be your textbooks.” That’s what Zoo School’s elusive principal, Ms. Font, says. Ursula, Kitty, Robin, Leo, and Drake are the only students of teachers Ms. Hummingfly and Mr. Dapple. Why have they all transferred to this new experimental school? Who knows. The obvious message is that each will conquer his or her fears or compulsions: one wants to sleep all the time, another is afraid of animals, etc. But the daily trials or lessons are far too silly to convince any reader and the zookeeper/teachers seem unsure of themselves. The job chart, with its confusing initials (SCG for Squirrel Crossing Guard, HG for Hippo Greeter), is a recurring distraction as are the ever-changing classroom and bizarre assignments. When the school inspectors from L.I.O.N.S. (Learned Inspectors of New Schools) arrive, the plot gets even more cluttered. The jokes are forced, the dialogue clunky, and there’s just too much going on for the intended audience: too many characters, too little plot, and too many distractions. When Ms. Font’s identity is finally revealed, it’s just another detail. (Fiction. 8-12)