Children on a field trip to the zoo follow the antics of Pinky the escapee flamingo.
Portis’ debut picture book follows Penny, a light-skinned, brown-haired little girl, and her racially diverse class on a field trip to a generic-looking zoo. Penny repeatedly exclaims that Pinky the flamingo “got out” and is hiding in various animals’ enclosures, which she points out to her classmates, but the zookeeper does not believe her until Pinky pops out and startles her in the gift shop, the last stop on the tour. Pinky eventually escapes the zoo and perches on top of Penny’s house in the penultimate and most charming illustration in the book. Richmond’s simple, cartoon illustrations depict human characters with uniformly oversized, perfectly round heads and offer both chances to find Pinky in the background and fun, silly reveals. However, the repetitive structure of the story is weak, causing the book to lose momentum and feel unfocused. The author inelegantly weaves other lessons into the story of Pinky—the zookeeper gives brief facts about only some of the animals that appear in the illustrations and repeatedly reminds children of the importance of staying with your class while on a field trip, a lesson clearly meant to underscore the irony of Pinky’s escape but that palls nevertheless.
Ultimately brings nothing new to the table, though young children will enjoy spotting the titular flamingo. (Picture book. 2-6)