"Everyyear we have amazing, beautiful babies," says Judy Frimer, marketing directorof the Wildlife Conservation Society, which owns and/or manages New York City's zoos andaquarium. As a way to introduce children to baby animals at the zoo, this monthWCS launched Animal Tales Extravaganza at the Bronx Zoo, a 13-week programdesigned to celebrate wildlife and children's literature.
Eachweekend between now and the end of June, the zoo is holding readings and talksby children's book authors and illustrators. Among the many participatingauthors and illustrators are Matthew Van Fleet (Alphabet), Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin (Click, Clack, Moo), Anna Dewdney (Roly Poly Pangolin), Peter Brown (The Curious Garden), Ed Young (MoonBear), and Holly Hobbie (the Toot& Puddle books). A complete schedule of events is available on the BronxZoo Web site.
Frimerdescribes Animal Tales Extravaganza as "a rich opportunity both for the parksand our publishers," and would like to see it become an annual spring event. Lastfall she approached booksellers and publishers to find a way to promote boththe zoo and books about animal babies. HarperCollins, Little, Brown, Macmillan,Penguin, Random House, Seven Footer, and Simon & Schuster are among thepublishers sponsoring readings at the zoo, as well as transforming it withlife-size books. Children can walk around or crawl through the pages of EricCarle's The Very Hungry Caterpillarin the Butterfly Garden or Judy Sierra and Marc Brown's Wild About Books at Astor Court.
Inaddition, DK is sponsoring a craft area, where children can create their owntouch-and-feel animal tale or color a bookmark. And members of the New AtlanticIndependent Booksellers Association have helped create a reading list.Suggested titles range from CuriousGeorge at the Zoo to Zoo-ology byJoelle Jolivet and If My Mom Were aPlatypus by Dia Michels. WCS vetted the list to make sure that the booksare factually correct and that wild animals are not represented as pets.
Booksellerscan download the zoo babies book list at the NAIBA Web site and reproduce it to hand out tocustomers. The list includes a $5 discount coupon to visit the zoo. As an addedincentive, bookstores that promote the Animal Tales Extravaganza —either instores or through their newsletters or Web sites—can get up to twocomplimentary family packs (or four zoo tickets per family).
InJune, WCS will continue its emphasis on children's books with a series of FishTale readings at the New York Aquarium in Coney Island.Dr. Seuss's One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish,Blue Fish will be among the featured books.