King of the Zoo


They say the lion is king of the jungle, but who's the king of the zoo?

Meet Carlos the Chameleon, the true king of the zoo...or so he thought!

When his friends point out that he's not the zoo's only king, Carlos must defend his kingdom! The kangaroo makes Carlos hopping mad. The monkey has Carlos scratching his head in disbelief. The elephant, too? Who knew?

Will Carlos ...

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They say the lion is king of the jungle, but who's the king of the zoo?

Meet Carlos the Chameleon, the true king of the zoo...or so he thought!

When his friends point out that he's not the zoo's only king, Carlos must defend his kingdom! The kangaroo makes Carlos hopping mad. The monkey has Carlos scratching his head in disbelief. The elephant, too? Who knew?

Will Carlos regain his rightful place on the throne or is he just being a royal pain?

From the hilarious Erica S. Perl and the NEW YORK TIMES Bestselling Illustrator, Jackie Urbanovic, KING OF THE ZOO is a read-aloud riot that will have everyone cheering for the little Chameleon on his king-sized quest.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature - Mary Quattlebaum
Take a walk on the wild side with Carlos the Chameleon! In this rollicking rhyme by acclaimed District of Columbia author Erica Perl, a small reptile with a big personality visits the denizens of a zoo—kangaroo, hippo, pygmy shrew—and proclaims himself king. Little ones will love repeating Carlos’s bombastic refrain even as he learns to share the spotlight and comes to appreciate his true worth. And they will get a kick out of examining the dynamic pictures by Maryland illustrator Jackie Urbanovic in order to see how and where Carlos changes color and the shenanigans of his two gecko buddies. Perfect for reading before or after a trip to the zoo. Reviewer: Mary Quattlebaum; Ages 1 to 3.
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—If the lion is the king of the jungle, who is the king of the zoo? Carlos believes that he is. However, the rest of the animals have other ideas. Is the kangaroo king of the zoo? Monkey? Elephant? Not according to this chameleon. There is room for only one king. "Me! That's who!" an unhappy Carlos grumbles. But maybe he needs to learn a lesson about what makes a true king. Readers will admire Urbanovic's playful illustrations and her affinity for comical animals. However, the story is a tad disappointing. While the colorful chameleon may amuse readers with his replication of each of the animal's colors and patterns, he isn't quite endearing. In fact, it's his two sidekicks who really steal his thunder. Also, the story about an individual who must always be the best and brightest until he learns humility is a tired one and falls short here. An optional purchase.—Carol Connor, Cincinnati Public Schools, OH
Kirkus Reviews
In this shallow story, Carlos the chameleon is sure that he is the king of the zoo--and he always will be as long as someone believes in him. In an opening spread featuring a game-board–like trail on which each of eight animal pens bear signs with crowns, an omniscient narrator asks "[W]ho's king of the zoo?" Carlos, at the beginning of the trail, believes he is until he ventures into the zoo and sees the crown outside the kangaroos' enclosure. His eyes bulge, and, echoing Eric Carle's From Head to Toe (1997), he becomes hopping mad. When he finds a crown at the monkeys' tree, he scratches his head; at the elephants', he stomps his foot and so on. Angry and bewildered, Carlos shouts at each animal (in big type in speech bubbles), staking his claim. His obnoxious behavior is somewhat alleviated by the bright cartoon-style art, which depicts the animals looking on, perplexed, as Carlos exhausts himself. In a forced interlude, the chameleon experiences a range of clichéd emotions, turning green with envy and going yellow with fear--ruminations that only scratch the surface. The superficiality is reinforced by the conclusion. Carlos recovers when a visitor arrives at his window and claims, "He's my favorite." The stated lesson: He only needed one person to know "he ruled." Unfortunately, this mishmash of a tale ultimately disappoints. (Picture book. 3-6)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780545461825
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/30/2013
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 637,795
  • Age range: 3 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 9.74 (w) x 10.06 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Erica S. Perl is the author of several books for young readers, including DOTTY, CHICKEN BEDTIME IS REALLY EARLY and the well-loved CHICKEN BUTT! books. Erica lives in Washington D.C. with her family, but you can visit her at

Jackie Urbanovic is the author and illustrator of the Max the duck series which includes two NEW YORK TIMES bestsellers, Duck at the Door and Duck Soup. She lives in Silver Spring, Maryland, and shares her studio with two playful dogs and one lovable cat. You can visit her online at

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