Reviews for Welcome to the Zoo!

Booklist Reviews 2008 November #1
In this fantastical offering, English illustrator Jay creates a zoo without the usual barriers between the animals and their visitors. When it opens, people swarm the entrance where beaks, trunks, and heads of curious animals peek out from hedges and trees as they observe the approaching humans. After the opening two-page picture map, each horizontal scene includes a large cast of people and animals engaged in dozens of individual activities and interactions. The oil paintings reward close attention with amusing visual details and small wordless dramas that carry through from page to page. Jay s signature style is clearly in evidence here, not only in the people s dainty limbs extending from elegantly elongated bodies with ballooning torsos and skirts, but also in the paintings crackled-varnish finish that creates random, yet pleasing effects. The closing pages feature seek-and-find games that will send children hunting through the pages once again. Polished yet playful, this nearly wordless picture book is an engaging choice. Copyright Booklist Reviews 2008.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2009 Spring
A family of four visits a rather unusual zoo in this wordless outing full of recurring characters and multiple visual plot threads. Jay's crackle-glaze varnished illustrations offer unique perspectives that invite the viewer into the story. Front endpapers provide a map of the zoo; a search-and-find list at the end sends viewers back to the beginning. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2008 September #1
This whimsical zoo is a wonder. Clean oils overlaid with crackling varnish portray the busy zoo in a series of snapshots, each double-page spread offering a glimpse into fanciful human-animal interactions. While a family of four views the exhibits, the free-roaming animals observe the human visitors dressed in colorful hats and formal attire. The traditional zoo roles are hilariously reversed: The primates read the paper, but the elongated human figures, in black-and-white ensembles, resemble statuesque penguins. Numerous stories are developed continuously in this wordless narrative; each page turn enhances the drama. Smaller details shine, from a hat blowing in the wind to an ostrich's victory over his zookeeper pursuer. Dominant characters are depicted against soft blue, gold and green backdrops; the tiger's tongue uncurling as his mouth stretches in an enormous yawn fully captures the animal's personality. Jay encourages the audience to peruse the pages again, offering unusual details in each viewing. Children will delight in visiting this magical place, where the wacky animals are the well-deserved premier attraction. (Picture book. 4-8) Copyright Kirkus 2008 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2008 September #1

Working in the burnished, crackle-varnished surfaces that are her signature, Jay (1-2-3: A Child's First Counting Book ) takes the idea of a cageless zoo to the extreme, imagining humans and animals mingling with all the privileged coolness of habitus of a five-star resort. Pairs of self-possessed raccoons and humans in chic sunglasses regard each other as fellow hipsters; families and a panoply of bear species tuck into some al fresco snacks with impeccable manners; and a monkey buys ice cream from a vendor. As in many of Jay's works, there are virtually no words. Richly populated tableaux are threaded with ministories, and readers can follow the respective trails of a runaway balloon and bonnet, as well as the vain attempts of a zookeeper to corral an ostrich. But the overall effect falls short of Jay's best titles with fairy tale or nursery rhyme themes. The more ordinary setting (however extraordinary some of the elements) results in an emotionally flatter impression; the experience is more cerebral than beguiling. Ages 3-5. (Oct.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2008 November

PreS-Gr 2--Jay leads readers on a journey through a fantastical zoo in this wordless picture book. Here, there are no cages, and the animals interact freely with the families and zookeepers roaming the park. The book has numerous mini-stories. Children can follow a family of four, a boy with a penguin balloon, and a couple with a perky French poodle, or simply watch the mischievous animals engage in remarkably humanlike activities. One side of the last spread asks readers: "Now that you've walked through the zoo, can you find…?" and shows cameos for careful observers to spot. The other side challenges perceptive youngsters: "What else can you find?" and asks questions such as "Whose legs are these?" and "Whose lunch is this?" Jay's distinctive crackle-varnished paintings are light and fun. Her colors are soft and her shapes rounded, making the animals as friendly as the stuffed toys on a child's bed. Youngsters will have a grand time tracing the movements of everything from parakeets to pandas.--Carrie Rogers-Whitehead, Kearns Library, UT

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