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Last week we walked to the library for storytime. It's a couple of miles and I had about 6kg of baby in a sling and 13kg of pre-schooler in a pushchair. I said that B could only pick three books to take home. Having duly selected his three books he then produces this one and asks for it as well. I said he could have it if he gave me a good reason and he replied with 'it's got a zoo and animals and books!' so it came home with us.
The story is about Molly McGrew, a mobile librarian who takes her mobile library into the zoo and creates an enthusiasm for reading and writing amongst the animals. It is a rhyming poem.
It was stored with the preschooler books in the library and it's layout and topic seem suited to that age. However, I found some of the language too complex for B. The scorpion's stinging reviews on the other insect's haikus were completely lost on him. Similarly, many of the references to books - Crictor, Nancy Drew and Harry Potter are outside the reading habits of age range the book is written for.
Despite this, B has loved the book and requested it over and over again. The detailed pictures provide plenty of opportunity for discussion, and the reader can hypothesise what sort of book different animals would be interested in and why, or who would write the best stories. It has stimulated lots of discussion outside the book about animals, and some of the unfamiliar animals in the text were found on the internet and then compared to our guesses from the illustrations. B spontaneously converted his bunk bed into a mobile library after reading this and the play over the weeks that followed mean that Marple horse, Evvidy elephant, Baa lamb and numerous other cuddly toys have been selected reading material from his shelves.
Overall it's a book that has stimulated a lot of thought and creativity in our household, it is just a shame that the majority of reading suggestions are outside the age range of the main readers.
On a recent visit to the library, my daughter picked up this book - Wild About Books - and insisted that we took it home with us. I was in absolutely agreement because, as I rightly thought, any book about books had to be good. This is actually quite a brilliant book with an excellent story, clever ideas and rhyming as well! Above all though, and most importantly, it really does promote a love of books and reading!
The story starts with Molly McGrew, the Springfield librarian, driving her bookmobile to the local zoo by mistake. At first none of the animals are interested as she turns on her computer and waits. However, it does not take long before their curiosity gets the better of them and they all come forward to take a closer look at these things called books! All sorts of animals come and take a look - wombats, lemurs, lynx, elephant calves, giraffes , zebras and so on. They all choose the right sort of books to suit them so the giraffes choose tall books, pandas choose books in Chinese and the otter swims happily with a waterproof copy of Harry Potter! The other amazing thing though, is that once they have started reading, the animals then start wanting to write their own books as well and are soon busying away in every corner o0f the zoo! By the end of the story they have even set up their own library at the zoo!
This book was an absolute delight to read with my four year old daughter and we both loved the sentiments behind it. The idea of the animals reading the books is so lovely and the fact that reading is apparently so contagious is very good too. I appreciated the references to lots of different books and authors - the very topical Harry Potter, Nancy Drew and good old Dr Seuss - although these were probably somewhat lost on my daughter!
The artwork (by Marc Brown)in the book is stunning and with so many animals mentioned, there are always different ones to spot on every page. This is very good because it helps children to identify different animals and to pick out their main features.
What really made this book for me though is the extremely clever rhyming. I appreciated all of the rhyming couplets and they virtually all brought a smile to my face. I'm just picking out a couple of my favourites though in order to illustrate what I mean. Firstly I love this pair of lines:
In a flash, every beast in the zoo was stampeding
To learn all about this new something called reading.
These two lines are accompanied by a wonderful illustration where all the animals are doing just that - stampeding across the zoo in order to find the books. Another excellent example is this one coming a little later in the story:
And bears' love of books was completely outrageous -
They licked all the pictures right off the pages!
I think all the language used is wonderful and the rhyming is not contrived at all with such well chosen words.
This is an immensely satisfying read and I just love the way it demonstrates how enjoyable reading and writing can be. We got it from the library and I guess we will either be renewing it a good few times, or I'll be ordering it from Amazon where it costs £5.24. At the same time we will definitely be looking out for more books by this great author, Judy Sierra.