Going to the Zoo!


Paper plate lion by Edward

Tonight’s storytime was about zoo animals, and was inspired by a friend who reminded me about a book that used to be one of my storytime standbys:


If Anything Ever Goes Wrong at the Zoo by Mary Jean Hendrick, illustrated by Jane Dyer

A little girl named Leslie asks the keepers at the zoo if she can take home a zebra, a monkey, an elephant, and many other animals.  When they each tell her no, she tells them that if anything ever goes wrong at the zoo, they are welcome to bring the animals to her house.  Her mother is in for a big surprise when the zoo floods, and the doorbell rings.  Both the kids and the parents enjoyed this one.


The Baby Beebee Bird by Debra Redfield Massie, illustrated by Stephen Kellogg

Probably one of my top five favorite books to read aloud.  It’s got large, colorful illustrations, LOTS of animal noises for the kids to help with, and a little bird that says, “beebeebobbibobbi” over and over and over again (preferably in a very high pitched voice).  The animals at the zoo are disturbed by the new noisy arrival who keeps them up all night, until they hatch a plan to teach her a lesson.


The Lion and the Little Red Bird by Elisa Kleven

I was introduced to this book by one of my library school professors who specialized in storytelling.  This was one of his favorite stories to tell, but I love the illustrations so much that I hate to share just the story without Kleven’s bright, beautiful paintings.  My daughter has recently discovered this book, and begs to hear it over and over.  A little bird wonders why a lion’s tail changes color every day, until one night she discovers his amazing secret.


Call Me Gorgeous by Giles and Alexandra Milton

An eye-catchingly gorgeous book about a mysterious animal who has the antlers of a reindeer, the spots of a dalmatian, the tail of a chameleon, and more!  My boss read this one at a recent storytime, and I had to try it (another coworker shared it with a first grade class, and they made her read it twice, then begged for another read).  My group loved it too, and fought over who was going to take it home.   It’s a simple but striking book that appeals to a wide range of ages.


Shake My Sillies Out by Raffi (my big comedy schtick is pretending to fall asleep when we “Yawn the Sleepies Out.”  Then the kids yell for me to “Wake Up!”  It never seems to get old.)

Two Little Blackbirds (see previous post)

No More Monkeys (I like to do the version by Asheba from the Putumayo Animal Playground album.  Here’s a Youtube video.  It’s incredibly catchy!)


Animal Fair by Laurie Berkner from her Whaddaya Know album.  Traditional song, but with lots of rhythm changes, which makes it fun for instruments.

CRAFT: Paper Plate Lions


Sorry this picture is a bit blurry, but here’s a shot of several of the lions together

I picked up some orange paper plates from Target and cut out yellow circles out of paper to fit in the middle.  The kids cut slits around the outside of the plate for the mane (luckily they were all pretty comfortable with scissors).  Then they glued the paper on for the face, added googly eyes and drew the nose, mouth and ears of the lion.  They were pretty cute.

This craft, and variations on it, appears on several web sites (including a cute one that uses twisty pasta for the mane).  The one we did was most similar to this version: http://www.preschoolcorner.com/Preschool_Art_Craft_Packages_Animals.html


Two other books I would have read tonight if I hadn’t already done them in the past few months were:

Edward the Emu by Sheena Knowles

A rhyming story about an emu who pretends to be other animals in the zoo because he thinks people find them more interesting.

Smile if You’re Human by Neal Layton

There’s only one copy of this book left in our library system, but it’s a cute story about an alien family who comes to earth hoping to find humans, but instead stumble into a zoo.

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell (recommended by Carol F)

Wonderful lift-the-flap board book for toddlers about a kid writing to the zoo to ask for a pet.  Both my kids adored this book.

Goodnight Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann (recommended by Thom M)

Wordless board book about a sleepy zookeeper and the gorilla who follows him around the zoo releasing the animals.  The illustrations are adorable, and there’s a mouse with a banana, and a red balloon on every page for kids to find.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Erin and Philip Stead (recommended by Clare R)

Winner of the 2011 Caldecott Medal, this is a sweet story about a man who visits the zoo every day and spends time with each of the animals, until one day he is too sick to come, so the animals come visit him.

Thank you for all of the recommendations, which I’m always thrilled to receive.  Any other favorite zoo and zoo animal books?

2 thoughts on “Going to the Zoo!

  1. I am requesting If Anything Ever Goes Wrong at the Zoo. And I had forgotten about The Lion and the Little Red Bird. There’s only one copy left in the system and it is checked out. They better bring it back so I can read it to ML.

    • Oh that’s too bad! I think I told the Lion and the Little Red Bird story for a job interview years and years ago. And a friend of ours gave us that one with a bunch of other books by Elisa Kleven for one of Will’s birthday, so she’s always been one of my favorite author/illustrators. I really like The Puddle Pail.

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