cover image When Lulu Went to the Zoo

When Lulu Went to the Zoo

Andy Ellis, . . Andersen, $16.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-7613-5499-4

Four-year-old Lulu becomes sad when visiting the zoo: “The tigers were crying really big tears/ and the life had gone out of the llamas' ears.” Conversations with the animals confirm her belief that they don't belong in cages; penguins dream of dancing on icebergs and a flamingo longs to fly in the sky. She brings the menagerie to her house, where they play dressup, ride a scooter, and gather in the bathroom “for a lovely hot wash./ But the bear in the bathtub was a bit of a squash.” When zookeepers arrive to retrieve the animals, Lulu explains, “they just want to be free,” and imagines a place called Lululand, where they can cavort in the wild. However, that fantasy disappears as quickly as it's introduced: the animals are ostensibly returned to the zoo, and she continues to sneak them out “on warm, moonlit nights.” Ellis's (Scaredy Dog! ) angular watercolors offer some comical details—deer antlers come in handy for stringing party lights at the festive “midnight snack” finale—but while Lulu's story has heart, its message is muddled. Ages 4–9. (Mar.)