3 out of 4 stars
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Love at the Zoo is an endearing children’s book written by Caitlin Matter. A mother and her daughter head to the zoo one beautiful summer day. While they are checking out all the animals, the mother decides to take the opportunity to explain to her daughter just how much she loves her. By comparing her love to the animals they see, she conveys all the ways her love is like the zoo. At one point, she asks her little girl if she understands. Her daughter’s response will warm anyone’s heart.
Having young kids of my own, I know that kids gravitate toward reading books about love, especially parental love. The theme of this book is one that any parent or child can embrace. The message is aided by the colorful full-page illustrations of the various animals. The drawings are simple and somewhat cartoonish, which is a style that little kids typically adore.
The story is told in rhyme, but I had trouble really getting a feel for the rhythm. It seemed that some of the stanzas were four lines long, while others were five. There were also not a consistent number of beats per line, which could make it a bit frustrating for an adult trying to read aloud to kids. However, nothing about the rhythm was so far off that it would bother a small child.
My only other quibble with the book is that while the comparisons between animals and love were sweet, some of the actual phrases didn’t make a lot of sense, and some were even a bit off-putting. For example, I’m not sure why anyone would want to say their love was “as prickly as a porcupine” or “as creepy as a crocodile.”
All in all, I thought this was a middle-of-the-road children’s book, given that the market for books about parental love is already highly saturated. There isn’t anything about this book that really makes it stand out as unique. I would award it 2.5 stars if half points were allowed, but considering that the weaknesses with the rhyming scheme and some of the phrasing are not likely to bother small children as much as they bothered me, I award Love at the Zoo 3 out of 4 stars. The book was edited well, as I found no errors, and the cute illustrations and sweet message will ingratiate it to kids. I would recommend this to parents who are looking for a good bedtime book for their toddlers or preschoolers.
Love at the Zoo
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