cover image The Zoo

The Zoo

Suzy Lee. Kane/Miller Book Publishers, $15.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-1-933605-28-9

This story of a girl who gets lost at the zoo draws its energy from a collection of contrasts. The text, told in the girl's voice, is deadpan; the pencil illustrations provide the punch lines. The girl's parents' world appears as a tinted blue-gray; her world comes alive in full color. The hard edges of the zoo's tiled walls and wire cages give the book a crisp, architectural look; newcomer Lee draws with a bold, free line of pastel. ""I went to the zoo with my mom and dad,"" the girl says; she follows a peacock, who leads her literally off the page to play with the zoo's animals (they've escaped from their cages). A few pages later, her parents realize in alarm that their daughter is gone. On the next spread, she cavorts with elephants in a shallow pool rendered in ecstatic strokes of every hue; collage elements add dimension and texture. The parents call out for her in front of the huge gray grid of an empty aviary, as she flies through the trees with a flock of exotic birds. At last her parents find her napping on a bench. ""I love the zoo. It's very exciting,"" she announces, as her exhausted parents carry her home. Each page and picture, from the front cover to the back, takes the story a step further. It's up to young readers to decide if the young heroine has had a wild adventure or a wonderful dream. Ages 2-7.