Thursday, November 21, 2013

King of the Zoo by Erica S. Perl -- OPTIONAL

Perl, Erica S. King of the Zoo, illustrated by Jackie Urbanovic, 40 pgs. PICTURE BOOK. Orchard Books, 2013. $16.99. Content: G

Carlos the Chameleon is convinced that he is the one and only King of the Zoo. But when he finds a sign proclaiming the kangaroo king, Carlos's confidence is shaken. Nonetheless, he swaggers up to the kangaroo, sticks out his tongue, and shouts, "The King of the Zoo is ME, that's who." But then he discovers the same sign outside the monkey pen, and again by the elephants, and on and on until he has finally lost the strength to get in each animal's face and yell that he, in fact, is the king. But when one little girl says she likes Carlos best, his former vanity can finally return full-force.

I love many things about this book. The illustrations are colorful and fun, and I especially enjoy the way Carlos changes color depending on the animal he's dealing with. Also, the refrain, "The King of the Zoo is ME, that's who." is quite fun to read aloud. However, I found Carlos himself vain, spoiled, and mean. After all, it's difficult to connect with a character who bullies all the other characters by sticking out his tongue at them and yelling that he is the king, not them. Honestly, when he regained his confidence in the end -- after learning nothing throughout his journey -- I felt sorry for everyone he would come into contact with next. There'll be no living with that chameleon then.

Pre-K, EL (K-3) -- OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Caryn

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