You may never think of the zoo the same way after you read this wonderful picture book! I knew I was in for a treat when I opened the book and found a zoo map on the inside cover with an unobtrusive note saying "Lost children may be claimed at the information kiosk. Children not claimed at closing time become property of the zoo and will be fed to the bears." I really knew I was going to love the book when I read the sign on the Walrus enclosure that said "I AM THE WALRUS (koo-koo-kachoo)."
The narrator, a young girl on her own, tells us the story of what happened one day at the zoo. When she walks into the zoo, she hears a "Pssst!" and looks around. A gorilla says, "Over here." She approaches him, and he asks her for a new tire to replace his broken swing. Bemused, she agrees, and he adds, "Great. Get two, just in case."
Again and again she hears "Psst!" and each time it is a different animal asking her for something: trash cans, flashlights, paint, bicycle helmets. (The bicycle helmets are for the sloths. When the girl starts to ask, "Why would you need--" one of the sloths slips off its branch and lands on its head with a resounding kunk. The girl, unflappable as ever, simply says, "Right...bicycle helmets."
I couldn't help but wonder how on earth she was going to manage to purchase all these things. But it turns out that the peacock picks the coins out of the fountains. Of course.
These animals have a plan - a Very Grand Plan with a wonderful payoff for the reader. This picture book is the perfect combination of text and illustrations, each telling an integral part of the story, and it succeeds beautifully.
Make sure to check out Adam Rex's very cool website as well as his blog, Editpus Rex.
Pssst! by Adam Rex (Harcourt, Inc., 2007)
Publisher recommends for ages 4 - 8.