Master Five just started school in February and without being too melancholy, I realise that the time will come when he’ll stop following me around the house with a pile of picture books asking to sit on my knee and to read together. So I’m consciously trying to take these moments when I can.
In a hygge-inspired snuggle, we recently spent a lovely twenty minutes together reading At the Zoo I See, a beautiful picture book by Joshua Button, a young author descended from the Walmajarri people of the East Kimberley.
In addition to the really distinctive pictures, the best thing about At the Zoo I See is that it doesn’t canvass your typical zoo inhabitants, and it uses unusual vocabulary to describe them.
The first animal that stumped us both was the ‘prowling quoll’. Neither of us had heard of a quoll. Master Five has a reasonable excuse; I don’t. Turns out they’re carnivorous, nocturnal mammals.
Whilst the jaguar was well-known to both of us, Master Five was perplexed about its ‘pacing’. I did my best to explain what pacing was, accompanied by what I thought were some quite inspired moves around the living room. ‘Do you know what I mean?’, I asked as I settled back on the couch. ‘No’, was the flat response. Tough crowd.
Master Five knew all about the ‘queenly Cassowary’. ‘They kill people’ he advised, matter of factly. Turns out, the last death from a cassowary attack was in 1926. Still, this diabolical creature hovers high on both kids’ and adults’ lists of animals in Australia to best be avoided at all costs.
‘I’ve never actually seen an anteater before, have you?’, he asked me as when arrived at that page. Reflecting on it, I hadn’t. Another one to add to the bucket list.
His favourite page featured the ‘curious wombat’. He loved the wombat’s long eyelashes and whiskers. ‘Curious means going lots of places’, I was told.
When we read the book a second time, Master Five could read all the words himself. He beamed with pride. Although a simple book, At the Zoo I See deserves high praise; it taught us both some new animals, introduced some unfamiliar words and provided the perfect excuse to cuddle on the couch.
I was given a copy of At the Zoo I See by Magabala Books in exchange for an honest review. And honestly, we loved it.