'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.' - author Jackie French

Friday, 6 December 2013

Review: Fraidyzoo

Oh Fraidyzoo, how I love you! This is one of the best picture books I've seen all year — every single bit of it is picture book perfection. And since it arrived in our house, we've had it on nearly constant bedtime-story rotation.

It's the perfect day for the zoo. The only problem is that Little T doesn't want to go. Something there frightened her the last time the family went, but she can't remember what. So, to help jog her memory, her mum, dad and sister unleash their creativity to bring to life an astounding parade of zoo animals. And in alphabetical order too!

Blankets, brushes, tutus, BBQ tongs, plastic bags, cardboard boxes, brooms, bubble wrap, ropes, oven gloves, towels, umbrellas, sleeping bags and much much more, are all brought into the fray to create alligators, bulls, camels, deer, elephants, flamingos … you get the idea!

But the brilliance of this book is that almost none of the animals are ever named. Instead, you have to work it out, just like Little T, from the antics of her family. (I have to confess that 'Q' had us beat, but fortunately the rear endpapers helpfully give you the answers if you need them!)

Of course, by the time Little T works out what she is (or isn't) afraid of, it's too late to go to the zoo after all, so they decide to go the next day. But the fun and games aren't over yet. Perhaps there's something at the zoo that Little T's older sister might just be terrified of … !

From start to finish this is a work of creative genius. Yes, there is a lovely message about facing your fears, but it's the sheer inventiveness of the storyline and the wit and charm of the illustrations that will have me reading this again and again.

Fraidyzoo is the debut picture book from illustrator and storyboard artist Thyra Heder. I can't wait to see what she comes up with next.

Title: Fraidyzoo
Author/Illustrator: Thyra Heder
Publisher: Abrams, $19.95 RRP
Publication Date: November 2013
Format: Hardcover with jacket
ISBN: 9781419707766
For ages: 4+
Type: Picture Book

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