Friday, January 13, 2012

Book # 13: Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

Image from

Described as a lift-the-flap book, this board book is about an unnamed narrator who writes to the zoo asking for a pet. Unfortunately, the zoo is a little confused and they keep sending pets that just won’t do. Each animal is delivered in a crate or a basket and you have to lift the flap to see what’s inside. After sending back lots of potential pets (the elephant was too big, the giraffe too tall, the frog too jumpy), the zoo finally sends the perfect pet, a dog.

The illustrations are done in bright, bold colors and after you read the book once the kids will already know what’s hidden behind the flap. But there’s just something about flaps that kids love and I bet they’ll be asking for this one over and over.

This book is perfect for babies and toddlers ages 0-3. Each page has just one illustration, so it's easy for babies to focus. When they figure out how, kids will want to be ones to open the flaps and turn the pages. The animal names aren’t in the text, so make sure to say them out loud along with the sound that animal makes (kudos if you can figure out a good sound for a giraffe). Once your child can talk, ask them to guess which animal will be inside the box and after they open the flap you can ask them what sound that animal makes.

After you read the book, try this fun action rhyme about the zoo. If your child can’t stand yet, bounce them in your lap as you sing the song. When you get to the part about elephants, swing your baby to and fro like the elephant’s trunk. If your child is almost ready to stand on their own, hold them up so they can bounce on their own while you sing.

Image from 3H Craftwork Society
Try making your own lift-the-flap postcard. If you don’t feel like drawing, cut out pictures of animals from magazines or print them offline and paste them in the square. Have your child dictate a message and send them to faraway friends or family members (I would put them in an envelope or else the flap could fall off in the mail).

If you’re looking for a good baby shower or birthday gift, this book is great. The flaps make the book interactive even if your child just pulls it off the shelf and plays with it on their own. I also found a flannelboard set for the book, which would be fun for a toddler storytime.


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