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Author: Lisa Shanahan
Illustrator: Wayne Harris
Publisher: Allen and Unwin Publishers
Publish Date: October 2004
Genre: Children's Picture Book
Age Suitability: 2 - 5
The story of the arrival of the new "top Gorilla" to the zoo and his struggle to gain respect from the other animals while balancing the expectations on him to be masculine and his softer side which needs a "snookie".
About the Author
Lisa Shanahan is Australian having been born and raised in Sydney. She originally trained as an actor at the University of Western Sydney and while studying, she taught drama and wrote plays for children. After completing her degree she enrolled in Libby Gleeson's course 'Writing for Children'.
Her first novel, Sweetie May was published in 1999, and listed as a CBCA Notable Book. Her next project, a picture book, What Rot also a CBCA Notable Book. Lisa has continued to delight children with Sweetie May Overboard, and picture books such as Bear and Chook, which was short listed for the 2003 CBCA Book of the Year Award in the Early Childhood category, Daddy's Having a Horse, The Postman's Dog and of course, Gordon's got a Snookie.
About the Illustrator
Also born in Sydney Wayne was educated at Picnic Point, then studied English and Drama Theory at the University of New South Wales. He has dabbled in singing and song writing and even recorded a solo album.
At thirty Wayne returned to college to study Graphic Design It was during his first year of graphic design employment that he worked at nights and on weekends illustrating his first book, Rain for Christmas, by Richard Tulloch.
Over the last decade Wayne has illustrated a number of books for other writers including A Bit of Company, Going Home and Bim Bam Boom! (all by Margaret Wild) and DragonQuest and Star Navigator by Allan Ballie.
Wayne's recent works include Impossible Pets, with Richard Morecroft and Alison Mackay, The House of Narcissus with author Margaret Wild and obviously his latest picture book is Gordon's Got A Snookie with text by Lisa Shanahan.
Wayne now runs a book design business with children's book illustrator Donna Rawlins.
About the story
Gordon, a big Alpha Male Gorilla is being shipped into the Zoo to "Look after" the girl Gorillas. It opens the night before he is due to arrive and all the animals are waiting in anticipation for his arrival.
The chant of "Gordon is coming! Gordon is Coming" passes from the Tiger, to the Seal, to the Yak and to the Gnu etc in an almost poetic manner. This theme is continued through the book with "Gordon's got a snookie" and "Grab the Snookie!" Only the Gnu stops to ask the Yak who Gordon is and what a Snookie is.
The Girl Gorillas are wide awake imagining some beautiful beast "I hope he's big!" "I hope he's strong!" "I hope he's Hairy!" They say wish dreamily.
When Gordon does arrive, he is in fact, Big, Strong and Hairy and the girls are impressed however, the children Gorillas, particularly Abu, notice Gordon has a Snookie (A comforter) and they tease him mercilessly. The other animals join in and the girls loose interest, turning down his offers for a climb, or to let them give him a "nit-picking.
Gordon grows sad and lonely as the other animals ignore him and has only his snookie for comfort.
One day, Gordon wakes up to hear Abu shouting for help as he has fallen into the water and can't swim. To cut a long story short, Gordon saves Abu by throwing his snookie in to pull him out. Of course, all the animals, and particularly the girl Gorillas instantly change their minds about how masculine Gordon is and fall all over him with praise. The story ends with Gordon in his rightful place as leader of the Gorilla Gang and each animal in the zoo owning and snuggling their very own Snookies.
Gordon's got a Snookie was written with parents in mind as well. There is humour included which targets not only the children but also the parents reading it. When she portrays the girl gorillas as single mums desperate to find a man to provide for them I couldn't help but giggle.
It is a funny and interactive read - one that your child can easily follow and interact with. The repetition evident with the chants are great in helping develop your child's speech as well as memory.
About the illustrations
The illustrations are cartoon-like images and Harris's graphic design background is clear to see. There are no real backgrounds for the most part, just the characters on single coloured bright pages. The funniest picture is of the laughing hyena being carted off on a stretcher by two monkeys dressed as ambulance men.
A funny interactive story which will appeal to parents most of all thanks to its subtle grown up humour. It doesn't have any particularly educational points although I suppose it does teach children not to judge someone based only on what you see, but to take the time to learn about the whole individual. My son likes it mostly because of the way I pummel my chest and roar as Gordon.
A good, fun and enjoyable read
This is enduring and endearing story of Gordon the gorilla and his struggle to balance the demands of his masculinity with his need for his snookie. Features delightful illustrations by Wayne Harris.