Saturday, 8 September 2012

Dear Zoo & It's Mine by Rod Campbell

E and I had were fortunate to attend a special birthday party recently to celebrate 30 years of Rod Campbell's classic children's book, Dear Zoo. E's favorite things from the afternoon were the special edition Dear Zoo m&m's and the generous goody bag from Macmillan Publishers (thanks again!).  I was thrilled to meet the man of the hour and hear him speak a bit about his experiences as an author/illustrator. 

Rod Campbell Q & A
My burning question for him was about the importance of repetition in his books. His sound response was that it was vital for building confidence. He sees repetition as an important learning tool and I took that to mean not just individual words but repeated concepts and phrases.  In Dear Zoo the narrator asks the zoo to send them a pet - a series of unsuitable pets arrive and each is in turn sent back to the zoo until finally a puppy arrives and is deemed 'perfect.' There is a pattern to the action repeated throughout the book and many children learn to recite the words within a few reads. If there is a young child in your life then Dear Zoo is a must - the app is great for slightly older kids too.  

Dear Zoo is a faultless title though E is equally fond of another board book by Rod Campbell, It's Mine. It's Mine introduces the reader to a series of jungle animals and comes with a roaring surprise at the end. In each picture there's a clue to the animal hiding on the next page: a green bit of tail is actually a large crocodile lounging in the river, a big furry paw poking out from behind the tree reveals a bear on the next page. It's great for encouraging children to notice the detail, it begs you to ask them questions and it allows them to build up suspense before the fantastic pop-up surprise at the end. This one is still going strong in our house and our copy is a much loved rag tag version of the original ... and it now has a special signature on the inside page from a very special author.  

Happy Birthday Dear Zoo and many thanks to Rod Campbell!


  1. Good question! And the event sounds like it was lots of fun.

  2. Thanks - I could have sat for hours at a Q&A but the swarm of toddlers helped us keep things short and sweet!