Going to the zoo and best friends: two familiar themes for children, and themes artist Todd Parr presents from a unique perspective with his new books Zoo Do's and Don'ts and The Best Friends Book. Though suitable for toddlers and pre-K audiences, readers of all ages will appreciate the humor in the creative mix of text and illustration.
Parr's Zoo Do's and Don'ts is a fresh glance at a well-known topic. In the spirit of last year's Do's and Don'ts, Parr supplies an easy-to-follow guide for zoo etiquette. And, Parr assumes, the rules apply even if you keep company with a zoo animal outside of the cages. For example, Do go to the movies with a skunk; Don't make her mad. The illustrations are as brightly colored as the humor, showing the effects of an angry skunk in an enclosed area. Through comical illustrations, Parr is able to artistically convey every sense from the heinous odor of an angry skunk to the pain one might endure when dancing with a porcupine. It could be one of the books that children request often as a read-aloud, yet the creative humor will keep the story fresh for adults.
Like Zoo Do's and Don'ts, Parr's The Best Friends Book brings creative text and bright, cartoon-like illustrations together for a humorous, yet child-true depiction of friendship. Parr is able to see friendship through a child's eyes: Best friends will share their pizza with you even if you want to wear the pepperoni. The text is enhanced by the illustration, showing a stunning pair of pepperoni earrings dangling from a friend's ears. Both are books that friends young and old will want to share.
Lynne Bercaw is a former elementary school teacher now teaching children's literature at Peabody College, Vanderbilt University.