Dear Zoo

This is such a classic book that it hardly needs a review, but it is worth posting about for the minority who may not yet have come across it.

It is a great first book for baby, and ticks all the boxes: a few words per page; a patterned, repetitive structure*; bright, bold, simple illustrations; flaps for fun and interaction; a chance to learn the names of some animals, and a gentle touch of humour.

It starts: “I wrote to the zoo, to send me a pet. They sent me a….” and then on each page we have a new crate and a new animal.  For example: “They sent me an elephant.  He was too big.  I sent him back”.  In the board book version the flaps are large and quite robust, and, rather nicely, open in different directions on different pages so they can practice a wider variety of hand movements.  This is also a great opportunity to practise animal noises – although the camel may prove a challenge!

There are a couple of niggles: the poor snake is stereotyped as ‘scary’, which is a shame, and “I wrote to the zoo to send me a pet” doesn’t fully make sense.  However, this is still a very good place to start reading.

*this is a great thing for children who are at the earliest stages of language learning: because only the name of the animal and the adjective changes, they are able to isolate and understand that word from amongst the rest of the sentence.

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