cover image Zoo


Anthony Browne. Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, $15 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-679-83946-0

Browne ( Gorilla ; Willy the Wimp ) again exhibits his inimitable dry wit, describing a less than idyllic family outing to the zoo. The young narrator paints an amusingly bleak picture of the day's incidents: Dad blames him when he and his brother fight during the slow, traffic-clogged trip to the zoo; Dad and Mum insist on viewing the boring animals first; and it seems that lunch time will never arrive. Worse yet, through it all, their buffoonish father embarrasses them with his relentless antics and jokes. But a lunch of burgers, fries, beans and ice cream--and a stop at the gift shop--save the day. Browne's effectively stark, magnificently realistic illustrations of the zoo animals offer a distinct contrast to his clever renditions of the supposedly human visitors to the zoo, many of whom bear an uncanny resemblance to the creatures in the cages. Younger readers may not appreciate Browne's cunning comment on human nature, or the engaging irony of Mum's closing comment: ``I don't think the zoo really is for animals . . . I think it's for people.'' All ages. (Feb.)