When Lulu Went to the Zoo

“When Lulu went to the zoo…

she was sad for the giraffes and the penguins too.

The tigers were crying really big tears

and the life had gone out of the llamas’ ears.”

Sneaking into the animal cages to have a quick chat, Lulu (who is two times two years old) discovers that all the animals dream about is being free.  So one night she lets them all out of their cages and smuggles them back home with her.  Unfortunately, despite her claim that “There’s room for you all, from elephant to mouse” a whole house full of zoo proves to be rather too much for a four-year-old to handle.   “The fridge was too full of penguins and seals.  There was no room for food, so no one had meals.”  The polar bear in the bath is also a bit of an issue.  When the zoo-men arrive to take back the animals, what will Lulu do?

This is a delightful little story with superb illustrations.  Andy Ellis’ spiky drawings capture the zoo animals perfectly and are full of humour.  The penguins and seals poking out of the fridge are highly amusing and the bewildered expression on the face of the postman under seige from a porcupine and a gang of small brown furry creatures is perfectly captured.  Although the rhyme is not always perfect and is not as polished as it might be, the story is well-expressed and it trips along easily with a simple, readable rhythm.

The story has a clear message about zoos, and although to be fair there are few zoos in Britain that are as old-fashioned as this the point is still a valid one.  Even quite young children will learn from this and it would form the basis for a good discussion with older readers about the sort of conditions that animals in captivity should be entitled to.

A charming, attractive story.

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