Tag Archives: Zoos

Einstein the Penguin – Iona Rangeley. Illustrated y David Tazzyman.

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Harper Collins Australia

December 2021

  • ISBN: 9780008475963
  • ISBN 10: 0008475962
  • Imprint: HarperCollins GB
  • List Price: 19.99 AUD

This is a fun new read for your kiddos who are moving on from those first easy chapter books to something a little more challenging. Imagine stirring up Paddington stories with Mr Popper’s Penguins with a good dash of Finding Nemo and just the tiniest hint of The Wrong Trousers, and you’ll be coming close. And in saying that, I am certainly not implying that this is derivative, merely that it reminds me strongly of all these stories with its fun and joyousness.

When the Stewart family visit London Zoo on a very gloomy winter’s afternoon the children are not very thrilled but certainly brighten up when they encounter a very endearing little penguin on their way out. When the children protest strenuously about leaving the penguin, and insisting that the bird accompany them home, Mrs Stewart kindly tells the little penguin he is always welcome at their home, in an effort to divert the kids. So, of course, the very next day there is a knock on the door and – lo and behold!- there is a penguin on the doorstep, complete with backpack.

As it turns out, Einstein is a penguin from Australia – ‘Sydney’ Zoo (well, that would actually be Taronga Zoo) to be exact and this smart little bird manages to convey to Imogen and Arthur, that he is here to find his much-loved friend, Isaac – who was whisked away with no due regard for comradely associations.

This is a story that is both funny and endearing as the children, especially would-be detective, Imogen, do their utmost to re-unite Einstein and Isaac – well, at least so each knows the other is safe and well.

It is both well-paced and ‘cute’ really and I foresee would be a big hit as a read-aloud – I would probably pitch it at Year 2s or 3s personally. Highly recommended for your younger readers from around 7 years upwards.

The One and Only Bob – Katherine Applegate

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Harper Collins Australia

  • ISBN: 9780008390662
  • ISBN 10: 0008390665
  • Imprint: HarperCollins – GB
  • List Price: 14.99 AUD

For all of us who fell in love with the story of Ivan and his friends, this is such an exciting new release – and all I can say is if you haven’t read The One and Only Ivan – what are you thinking?! Get to it now before the long-awaited movie adaptation comes out!

Ivan and baby Ruby are happily living in the zoo that is their new home. Ruby is the darling of her adopted elephant herd and Ivan even has a girlfriend while Bob, the indomitable little dog who is their best friend, is living with Julia and her parents. NOT that he is a pet you understand – but he does accept the regular feeding, cuddles and being looked after without too much complaint. Luckily, Julia’s dad now works at the zoo and Bob is able to visit his friends regularly – with the keepers all turning a blind eye to the general rule that dogs are not allowed in.

It would seem that all is smooth in the lives of this strange but tight animal trio but when their town is hit by a hurricane that becomes a tornado all is chaos. The zoo suffers much damage and they are caught up in the destruction and the subsequent consequences. Added to this drama is Bob’s discovery of his long-lost sister whose life has been both scary and traumatic, though she brushes it all off with seeming carelessness.

Bob may be small but his spirit is huge – something already demonstrated in the earlier book – and again, this canny canine proves his worth as a hero of epic proportions.

Once again Katherine Applegate has written a tale that epitomises the true meaning of friendship, loyalty, family and home. Readers, young and old alike, will revel in the continuation of the story of this extraordinary animal and human family.

My highest recommendation for this new sequel to a truly amazing story, which was inspired by the true story of Ivan, the magnificent silverback, who became the most famous resident of the Atlanta Zoo.

Fiona the Hippo – Richard Cowdrey

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fiona

Harper Collins Australia

ISBN: 9780310766360

ISBN 10: 0310766362

Imprint: HarperCollins – US

List Price: 13.99 AUD

When a tiny hippo was born prematurely at Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden in January 2017 she became an internet sensation. Weighing only 29 pounds this little fighter survived and thrived and has become an inspiration to many for her plucky personality and perseverance.

Now Fiona’s story has been brought to children by acclaimed New York Times artist, Richard Cowdrey via what could well be the most endearing board book ever.

Taking inspiration from Fiona’s own adventures as she grew from undersized newborn, not expected to live, to healthy happy hippo youngster this charming book details milestones such as learning to walk and swim and being introduced to her parents.

Fiona’s first year, filled with loving support from her caregivers and her legion of fans, has been translated into a joyous expression of her tenacity and grit.

Just as Fiona online captured the hearts of many so too will this book, giving children not only a fascinating and fun look at the little hippo baby but a meaningful lesson in perseverance and friendship.

Highly recommended for little ones from baby upwards.

The One and Only Ivan – Katherine Applegate

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Harper Collins Australia

  • ISBN:9780007455331
  • ISBN 10: 000745533X
  • Imprint: HarperCollins – GB
  • Published 2012
  • RRP: 99 AUD

I may well be one of the last to read The One and Only Ivan although I have heard all the fulsome praise for it since its publication.  And now what to say about a book that not only lives up to its hype and my expectations but exceeds them?

No reader could remain unmoved by this story of courage, dignity, intelligence and compassion. If only all humans could exhibit these traits as well as Ivan does.

For those who don’t know, Katherine Applegate’s novel about Ivan the captive gorilla, his long and bleak incarceration in a shopping mall with a ‘circus’ theme and his eventual freedom to the Atlanta Zoo is based on a true story. You can read more about it here at Zoo Atlanta.  Ivan’s history is a sad one but ultimately has a positive outcome which reflects what can happen when a community rallies together to redress an injustice.

Ivan’s fictional story will break your heart – and then heal it again – as Ivan moves from acceptance and resignation to his plight, to his fight for freedom as he vows to protect Ruby, a tiny baby elephant, newly arrived at the mall.

For over twenty years Ivan has lived in his solitary confinement with his only companions being other animals in the mall, most particularly Stella the elephant and Bob, an intentionally homeless dog. His best human friend is Julia, the daughter of the mall’s cleaner. Ivan is a natural artist and Julia connects with him with her own artistic efforts. But things change and the popularity of the mall’s animal exhibits and the ‘circus’ shows performed regularly begin to pall with customers. Mack, the owner, is determined to boost the centre’s attendance and when Stella begins to show signs of injury and aging, he snaps up a bargain buy from a bankrupted circus in the shape of tiny Ruby.   Ruby is comforted by Stella’s maternal presence but the old elephant’s health fails so much that combined with a lack of concern from Mack and no vet assistance, Stella dies and Ruby is left a defenceless infant again. And this is when Ivan begins his transformation into the silverback protector he has always been meant to be. His final promise to Stella to ensure Ruby has a happier fate than dying in a shopping mall cage, leads Ivan to discover his inner abilities and prove that anything is possible with determination and creativity.  His relationship with Julia and his own will to fulfil his vow achieve a remarkable and uplifting resolution.

Find a discussion guide here and check out the website here for more information about the book, the One and Only Ivan and the author.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough and have already earmarked it for a Readers Circle title in my new library. It is definitely on my ‘tiramisu’ book list!