4 out of 4 stars
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There is something comically relaxing about the thought of a sloth meditating while a pair of bespectacled llama brothers look on in giggling curiosity. Mice dance and snooze nonchalantly around the coiled rug of a yogi cat, and the two sloth characters, Dottie and Jimmie, proceed to eat pizza, play guitars, and snuggle their favorite polka dot pillows. Narcoleptic by nature, these relaxed sloths often get quite sleepy and can be seen taking cushiony naps on cloud puffs. The trees in this tale are decorated with multicolored confetti, and mindsets openly develop and change as the fun plot progresses. All of these scenes come to life in first-time author Vannessa Nicholson’s new children’s book, The Unique Zoo Trip.
Simple sentences feature straightforward terminology, and plenty of exclamation points keep the mood enthusiastically upbeat. The text appears in all caps in a playfully whimsical font. The entire book is spoken dialogue, so there are no instances of quotation marks additionally sprinkled throughout. Every page features a pleasingly bright color palette, and I loved seeing on-trend botanical prints and hip fashion accessories. Children will love seeing the printed headscarves and retro pairs of sunglasses as interspecies friendships blossom and develop.
What I enjoyed the most were the professional illustrations and the playful rhetoric. The phrasing “Boogie, baby! Boogie, yeah!” appears above the sloth couple as they dance, and one of the super cool llamas is seen wearing a pair of dark sunglasses as he simply says, “Sup.” There was no portion of the story that I disliked, but I do wish that the llama brothers had been given proper names as well. I might also mention that the chosen book title may not provide the most accurate indication of this book’s focus. Once the storyline begins, there’s never any actual mention of a zoo or illustrations that would seem to specifically indicate a zoo setting in particular.
At a length of just 24 pages, this is a quick read that would make a fun and relaxing bedtime story. I feel this book would be appropriate for all ethnicities and religions, and I’d happily recommend it for children ages 6 and up. It emphasizes the physical and mental health benefits of meditation and yoga, and it even works in a mellifluous mention of music and the sense of added relaxation a creative hobby can provide. From an editorial standpoint, the perceived grammatical errors were minimal; I only encountered four comma-related issues and one issue with a compound term.
Readers will see some realistically accurate sayings like “tired but inspired,” and the tale concludes with some applicable examples of specific yoga poses that are demonstrated through colored photographs of stretchy children. The pictures show young readers positions like WARRIOR II, SIDE PLANK, 3-LEGGED DOG, and PRAYER POSE.
I gladly award this book a 4 out of 4 stars rating. It uses cute animal illustrations to promote the importance of embracing all of your unique quirks, eccentricities, and differences. As you continue to face each day, may you do so with intentional grace. Peace be with you all and “ll-am-aste.”
The Unique Zoo Trip
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