cover image My Visit to the Zoo

My Visit to the Zoo

Aliki. HarperCollins, $17.99 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-06-024939-7

This fact-packed book's opening lines (""I didn't really want to visit the zoo. I had been to one that made me feel sad"") set Aliki's (My Visit to the Aquarium) direct and responsible tone as she leads readers on yet another lively learning expedition. A girl discovers that this zoo (a composite of several actual sites), unlike others she's visited, allows its residents to roam as they would in the wild. The text is arranged around and within Aliki's cheerful illustrations, and introduces a broad range of animals, each labeled with its species and native region. Some (like `the Great Apes' and `the Great Cats') are united in double-page spreads, while others (like animals indigenous to the tropical rain forest) are arranged in a photo album-style grid. The animals are rendered in varying degrees of detail: some are stunning likenesses (such as the lowland gorilla or orangutans), while others are stiff and less convincing (e.g., the cheetah or petting zoo animals). Nuggets of animal facts convey information in a credible childlike voice (""I thought a koala was a bear, but it is a marsupial""). Avoiding a preachy tone, Aliki deftly imparts her dual missive about the importance of both preserving animals' natural habitats and, for animals in captivity, supporting those zoos that serve as sanctuaries. Ages 4-up. (Sept.)