cover image Last Night at the Zoo

Last Night at the Zoo

Michael Garland. Boyds Mills Press, $15.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-56397-759-6

In light-hearted, rhymed couplets, Garland (The Mouse Before Christmas) introduces a group of animals who escape from the zoo for a festive night on the town. After seals and a walrus dredge up coins from their pool to fund the escapade and a monkey snatches keys from the dozing night watchman, the menagerie raids the zoo's lost-and-found in hopes of finding a way ""to blend in with the crowd."" Featuring a 3-D quality and hues that range from luminous to neon, Garland's funky computer art reveals these adventurous critters decked out in a range of wildly patterned shirts and sporty hats. Their first stop is a French restaurant, where the scene highlights some slapstick flourishes: the necktie-clad seal balances a martini glass on his snout; a banana peel lands on the alligator's head. The accompanying verse bounces with humor: ""Imagine the noise as they devoured their meal,/ All that roaring and howling--and barks from a seal!/ Then the waiter got angry and started to shout./ He flipped his toupee and threw them all out."" After boogying at a nightclub and snacking at a diner, the revelers return to the zoo, where murmurs of a subsequent escape plan surface. Readers will hope this animal crew pulls off another clever caper. Ages 5-8. (Jan.)