My Zoo by Rod Campbell

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My Zoo by Rod Campbell

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Category: For Sharing
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Margaret Young
Reviewed by Margaret Young
Summary: Rod Campbell's enchanting illustrations and very simple text in a lovely board book for babies and young children.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 32 Date: June 2013
Publisher: Macmillan Children's Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0230770928

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My children have always been drawn to Rod Campbell's simple but appealing illustrations, so I was delighted to have a chance to review this book, even though my boys are now older than the expected age range. This is a very simple book. There are fifteen large die cut animals on a pastel coloured background. The illustrations have a unique quality to them that I can only describe as Rod Campbell. The animals all have friendly appearance, and a kind of gentleness to them. The front view of each animal has only the animal's name in bold black print. When you turn the page, there is a single sentence about the animal in smaller print. With a very young baby, the parent can read only the animals name, perhaps adding the sound for each animal. As the child grows older, the parents can begin reading the extra line on each animal. The fact the animals are larger than usual in these pictures, and on sturdy pages that are perfect for little hands, means this book would be ideal for babies as young as six months. I feel this would make a lovely first book for young child. As much as we loved Dear Zoo, I feel this book is even better for infants.

My youngest child is four, and at this age, I didn't expect him to take a great deal of interest in this book, but I was pleasantly surprised. He really enjoyed the illustrations, and is quite happy to sit looking through the pages and pretending to read the names of the animals. I have found most parents tend to discard this type of book as the children reach nursery age, however, I believe this type of book has a great deal of potential for emerging readers as well. I taught my son phonics, but he has explained how much this type of book helped him learn to read as he practiced reading the familiar text over and over again. I can remember doing the same thing myself as a child.

I know some people will disapprove of this method of developing literacy, as strict phonics is once again becoming the preferred method of reading instruction, but I do believe children benefit from both phonics and whole language. Successful readers usually employ a variety of tactics in decoding unfamiliar text and of course we all do learn to read whole words eventually anyway. The large type for each animal's name allows the child to first learn the beginning letter and phoneme, and eventually to recognise the entire word. Once again as the child grows, they can do the same thing with the simple sentence on the reverse of the page, which is easy enough to commit to memory. The illustrations have such an endearing quality, that children will be drawn to this book to explore over and over again. This type of play with books has only recently been recognised as critical step in emergent literacy. My Zoo is wonderful as a baby book, but I feel that it has significant value for much older children as well, and would recommend this book for any child who has not started to read independently yet.

If this book appeals then you might also like to try:

Dear Zoo by Rod Campbell

The Very Hungry Caterpillar Pop-Up Book by Eric Carle

Booklists.jpg My Zoo by Rod Campbell is in the Top Ten Picture Books of 2013.
Buy My Zoo by Rod Campbell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy My Zoo by Rod Campbell at

Buy My Zoo by Rod Campbell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy My Zoo by Rod Campbell at


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