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Book reviews from 4-7 years: At the zoo

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Read our reviews of some wonderful zoo-themed books.

Animals: a children's encyclopedia

Animals: a children’s encyclopedia (Dorling Kindersley, ISBN 9781405328753)

‘Experience animal life inside this inspiring book.’ So says the back cover of this stunning children’s encyclopedia. The children were extremely taken with the book, and enjoyed pouring over the spectacular images and sharing interesting information and facts with one another.

The bite-sized information in the book is clear and easy for children to understand. The book is divided into the following sections: mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates. There is also a concise key, which gives useful information about each animal’s size, habitat, lifespan and endangered status. Each page is laid out clearly, which the children thought made it easier for them to read, while the pictures support the information beautifully. This book is going to become a valuable non-fiction text in our school!

Co-reviewed by Louise Thomason, Jack Walker and Brodie Lawson

Jungle Jive

Jungle Jive by Tony Mitton and David Wojtowycz (Alison Green Books, ISBN 9781407108230)

What do animals get up to when humans aren’t looking? The answer is in here! The jungle animals are preparing for Monkey’s birthday, and everyone is getting ready as there is a prize for the best dressed. This fun rhyming story progresses through all the animals as they pick their outfits. Once at the party when the judging commences, Snake appears with ‘a scowl and a hiss’ pronouncing ‘animals don’t wear clothesssss…’ There is a lovely twist at the end of the story – but you’ll have to read it to find out which animal is awarded the ‘best dressed’ prize.

This rhythmic story is bursting with lovely bright pictures, which complement the story beautifully. The children laughed and thought the illustrations and the story were a lot of fun, and they particularly loved the sparkly pages at the end.

Co-reviewed by Sarah Thomason, Calvin Brown and Kimberly Wolff

Big and Busy Animals

Big and Busy Animals by Roger Priddy (Priddy Books, ISBN 9781843328742)

Big and Busy Animals is a fantastic interactive non-fiction board book. It’s full of big and bold pictures and clear snippets of interesting information. The book is aimed at younger children and is set at a level that they will understand independently. The pictures support the information in the text and also help to illustrate the facts.

The children loved how this book was full of lift-the-flap, turn-the-wheel and open-the-door activities, which really encouraged them to engage with the information. While interacting with the book, they also interacted with each other. They enjoyed sharing information with one another and were fascinated by some of the information. The book also encouraged a lot of ‘Guess what’ games. This is a lovely non-fiction book and has become a popular choosing book. A must-have addition to any school library!

Co-reviewed by Billy Walker, Leanne Spence and Kyle Williamson


Zoo-ology by Joëlle Jolivet (Egmont, ISBN 9781405243407)

Zoo-ology is a wonderful picture tour around the animal kingdom, featuring both common and uncommon species. Inside, the book divides the 300 featured animals up into their natural habitats by colour, commonalities or pattern, and each section has its own delightful double-page spread. The spreads only contain a picture and name of the animal, but at the back of the book is a short extract of information on each one. As well as adding interest, this encourages the skill of using an index.

The children loved the pictures as they are bold, bright and clear. They were very intrigued by the unknown animals and went searching for the information. The pictures inspired lots of lovely artwork in the classroom, too.

Co-reviewed by Christina Anderson, Ethan Peel and Lana Williamson

Animal things to make and do

Animal things to make and do by Rebecca Gilpin (Usborne, ISBN 9780746097748)

When this book was lifted out of the bag, the children immediately wanted to go and make things out of it. ‘How else can we review it properly?’ they asked. There are lots of lovely things to make and do using a variety of materials – from pens, paint and collage, to using egg shells to make penguins. With a little guidance, the children were able to follow the instructions and complete their projects independently and successfully. They thoroughly enjoyed working and following the clearly laid out instructions to make different animals.

This is a wonderful book, which will encourage and develop children’s skills of using and following instructions. It’s also great for giving teachers some lovely craft ideas to complement an animals topic.

Co-reviewed by Alfie Lawson, Holly Walker and Amy Walker

Welcome to the Zoo

Welcome to the Zoo by Alison Jay (Templar Publishing, ISBN 9781840117684)

Welcome to the Zoo is a lovely book with no words, which intrigued the children greatly. Each page is full of very busy illustrations, lending the book brilliantly to discussions. The illustrations take you on a tour around the zoo, where the children can trace the movements of the visitors as well as the animals. There is a handy ‘Can you find…’ section at the back, which gives prompts to allow children to work independently.

Some children enjoyed the book as they felt they could make up their own story by following the pictures. Others liked it as they could look, spot and discuss what was happening on each page. Welcome to the Zoo has a lot of potential for creative writing, be it creating a storyline, designing animal fact cards, writing signs for the zoo, and so on.

Co-reviewed by Ming Sandford, Brian Dobson and Sophie Kennerley



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