cover image Class Two at the Zoo

Class Two at the Zoo

Julia Jarman, , illus. by Lynne Chapman. . Lerner/Carolrhoda, $16.95 (0pp) ISBN 978-0-8225-7132-2

A field trip to the zoo has all the kids so giddy with excitement that they quickly dispense with their teacher's warning “Don't wander off!” Even worse, they're oblivious to the hungry anaconda, which is doing a little wandering—and grazing—of his own. “They failed to see that huge reptile.../ open his jaws and swallow Kyle,” writes Jarman (Big Red Tub ). “They didn't see that giant snake.../ make a meal of James and Jake.” Luckily, a bright girl catches the snake in the act of feasting on their teacher and organizes a rescue party. Slimy but smiling, the victims emerge from the giant snake mouth—including “a boy they didn't know./ 'Thank you,' he said, 'my name is Joe.' ” Working in bright pastels on a textured surface, Chapman (The Odds Get Even ) keeps a genial silliness bubbling throughout these pages. There are lots of visual gags (perpetrated by both humans and animals), and not for a second will readers doubt that the children will prevail over the ravenous snake. And while the kid cast may have oversize heads and huge goggle eyes, their unfettered behavior seems all too realistic. Post-kindergarteners will probably find this story a bit too juvenile, but anyone younger—as well as any grown-up who's been recruited to chaperone a field trip—should come away with a giggle. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)