As animals queue up alphabetically to have their portraits painted, pesky Zebra keeps trying to jump the line.
In exuberantly spattered watercolors, Annie, a small, redheaded white girl with an easel, invites Aardvark, Bear, and the other animals forward one at a time for broadly brushed pictures with upper- and lowercase letters (all assembled in a closing gallery on the rear endpapers). Along the way she gently but repeatedly has to push importunate Zebra to the back: “I need Gorilla and Hamster and… / What did I say? / Not yet, Zebra. Please go away!” Zebra (not unlike Mo Willems’ Pigeon, though nonverbal) turns out to be hard to discourage, but sad looks, disguises, and pushy behavior all turn out to be equally fruitless. And, when Zebra’s turn finally, finally comes, he’s nowhere to be found—having, no surprise, fallen asleep in bed. Like the young artist, budding abecedarians will be amused. There are few surprises in the lineup of animals, but the mix is a lively one, and even the animals who are observing proper order have plenty of personality on offer.
A cheery run through the ABCs, with a bit of a message about lining up and awaiting one’s turn slipped in. (Picture book. 3-5)