4 out of 4 stars
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Monty, a literal fish out of water, isn’t the only animal acting strangely in Vivienne Alonge’s whimsical children’s book, Monty the Fish Goes to the Zoo. At the zoo, Monty and a friendly worm observe eighteen different animals. As Monty and the worm progress through the zoo, each animal they observe joins their party. This makes for some interesting illustrations, as all of the animals with Monty are visible in each picture.
Each animal is given a page with a simple sentence describing what they’re doing. The following page is a full-page illustration of the act described, with Monty, the worm, and other animals as onlookers. The illustrations are vibrant and colorful, with smiling, mischievous animals filling the pages.
The author has cleverly given this book an I Spy element. The reader is encouraged to find the worm in each illustration. I read this with my 3-year-old, and the worm was often too hard for him to find on his own, but we had a lot of fun “finding” the larger animals. The worm could be tricky to spot sometimes, especially when two snakes were brought into the mix; they kept confusing my son, and I’m still not sure if I found a worm or a snake on the last page.
For every two animals, there’s a couplet. For example: “Monty saw a monkey tickling the lion’s toes / Monty saw a zebra playing dominoes.” For the most part, there’s good cadence and rhythm, but some of the sentences disrupted the flow. This wasn’t too problematic though, since we were pausing between each animal to look closely at the illustrations. I only noticed this when I read it aloud to myself. The rhymes are strong rhymes, except for the two slant rhymes, “queen/cream” and “suit/boots.”
The language is simplistic; I think “chimpanzee,” “dominoes,” and “python” are the only words a younger preschooler might be unfamiliar with. The text is rich with verbs, and I found that very helpful since that’s something my son is working on in speech therapy. I would highly recommend this book to any parents who have children struggling with the same issue. Additionally, if you want a fun book that will introduce your child to a slew of animals doing silly things, you should check this out. Though Amazon says the book is for ages 1-18, I think 2-8 is the age range that would get the most out of this book.
There were a couple of grammatical errors, although at least one is more of a subjective error than an objective one. Regardless, I still highly enjoyed this book, as did my son. This is why I give Monty the Fish Goes to the Zoo four out of four stars, as well as the fun illustrations and the I Spy element.
Monty the fish goes to the zoo
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