Zoo, Where Are You?
Ann McGovern ~ Ezra Jack Keats
Harper & Row, 1964
I picked this up originally because it's Keats and you have to give all Keats a look, every time. While the pictures are (as always) endearing, after the third or fourth read, I found it wasn't so much the illustrations that stood out as it was McGovern's story. Here, we meet a little boy who is frustrated with the lack of a zoo in his town, so he goes out in search of animals to collect, and finds something even more fabulous.
His own imagination.
He looked in the weeds for a wild goose. He didn't find a wild goose, but he found an acorn with its cap on. He looked in the mud for a mud turtle. He didn't find a mud turtle, but he found an old picture. He walked all around the pond, looking for zoo animals. He found a rusty key and a branch shaped like an arrow. Then he was hungry, so he went home for lunch.
"Well," said his mother, "what did you find?"
"Junk," said Josh, emptying his bag on the kitchen table for his mother to see. "Isn't it beautiful?"
"Beautiful," said his mother.
And it was.
The whole tale takes place in the woods and in this child's mind and is littered with all sorts of beautiful things, both in ideas and knick knacks... until his zooful of junk become more wild and exotic and wonderful than the biggest bear or most ferocious lion. All depicted in that glorious Keats style. (Ten bucks says that photo is Keats and some relatives. Anyone care to guesstimate?)
Whistle for Willie
In a Spring Garden
How To Be A Nature Detective
Maggie and the Pirate
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