Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo

( 1 )


This lively and lyrical jaunt from actor and author John Lithgow comes with a CD of his celebrated song!

Oh, children! Remember! Whatever you may do,
Never play music right next to the zoo.
They’ll burst from their cages, each beast and each bird,
Desperate to play all the music they’ve heard.

A concert gets out of hand when the animals at ...

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This lively and lyrical jaunt from actor and author John Lithgow comes with a CD of his celebrated song!

Oh, children! Remember! Whatever you may do,
Never play music right next to the zoo.
They’ll burst from their cages, each beast and each bird,
Desperate to play all the music they’ve heard.

A concert gets out of hand when the animals at the neighboring zoo storm the stage and play the instruments themselves in this hilarious picture book based on one of John Lithgow’s best-loved tunes. This package includes a CD of John and an orchestra performing the song!

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Sarah Harrison Smith
…[a] zany and toe-tapping song, illustrated with comic abandon…
Publishers Weekly
After a boy falls asleep at an outdoor concert near the zoo, mayhem erupts: “All at once the conductor erupted with rage!/ A band of wild animals was storming the stage!” Lithgow (I Got Two Dogs) describes the chaos in high-spirited verse (which he also sings on an accompanying CD): “The monkeys played fiddle, the bison played bass,/ the percussions were manned by the camel./ The yak played the sax until red in the face—/a surprisingly musical mammal.” The premise has lots of comedic potential, and Hernandez (Dog Gone!) delivers: a flautist fends off a bear and two raccoons with her music stand and, later, a blue tutu-wearing hippo blasts the tuba “by the light of the silvery moon.” Readers get an incidental introduction to various instruments, but light nonsense is this book’s raison d’être. Although some rhymes feel padded or extraneous (immediately after the concert, the animals “each reminisced, so grateful and glad,/ so full of contentment and pride”), it’s a frisky addition to the author’s oeuvre of musical picture books. Ages 2–6. Author’s agent: Lark Productions. Illustrator’s agent: Rachel Orr, Prospect Agency. (Oct.)
"A particularly good story hour choice."
Children's Literature - Heidi Hauser Green
Readers who are tired of boring rules--and, really, who isn’t?--will embrace this story wholeheartedly. It is a cautionary tale from a narrator who has learned an important (if unusual) lesson from a childhood experience, to never play music right next to the zoo. Why ? The same music that caused the narrator to nod off in his seat is sure to cause the zoo animals to spring from their cages intent to play it. Yes, before you know it, they will be stealing instruments, chasing away musicians, and laying down a raucous tune. Somehow, the narrator seems the only one to realize what is going on as the animals play the music then return to their cages. That is why the title of the book is rule number one, but the author has one more caution to offer. Rule number two, that is: “Don’t fall asleep when an orchestra plays.” Multi-talented actor, performer, and author John Lithgow presents a delightful tale of musical mammal mayhem. Leeza Hernandez’s bold yet whimsical illustrations make this a feast for the eyes. Readers will come back to the book many times, and always find details they have not seen before. The CD is a nice, although not necessary, companion to the outlandish story. Beginning readers may be glad for it so they do not have to wait for an adult to read them what is sure to be a favorite. Reviewer: Heidi Hauser Green AGERANGE: Ages 2 to 8.
Kirkus Reviews
One can easily guess from Lithgow's admonishing title just what might be in store. A boy and his family go to an outdoor concert in the park. However, the band shell happens to be right next to the zoo. (Cue disaster chord.) Suddenly, the animals storm the stage, knocking over the musicians and grabbing all of the instruments. Lithgow pleads with readers: "Oh, children! Remember! / Whatever you may do, / never play music right next to the zoo. / They'll burst from their cages, each beast and each bird, / desperate to play all the music they've heard." The ferret plays the flute, the yak plays the sax, the bonobo plays the oboe (naturally), and the goat…well, the goat just eats the sheet music. Hernandez's digital art shines during the frantic tussles between the orchestra members and the animals. They won't give up their instruments without a fight! In an oft-used trope, the little boy finds out that he was just dreaming in the end. But that brings up Lithgow's second most important rule: Never fall asleep during a concert! Move over, Carnival of the Animals (illustrated by Boris Kulikov, 2004); here's another snappy, yet lighter and younger, zoological fantasy to add to Lithgow's repertoire. (CD included) (Picture book. 2-6)
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 2—This zany picture book follows a boy who attends a concert next to the zoo. Bored with the performance, he begins dozing off when suddenly the animals take over the stage. "The lions and the elephants,/the bears and the raccoons/will steal away the trumpets,/the flutes and bassoons,/replace the musicians, and chase them away/Then they'll sit in the band shell/and play." The humorous verse is full of zoo creatures and instruments that children will likely want to learn more about. The digital artwork matches the tone and text perfectly. Children will be giggling at both the song and the illustrations, such as the one of a hippo playing a tuba. This would be a great storytime book, and it even includes a CD of Lithgow singing the tune with an orchestra.—Brooke Rasche, La Crosse Public Library, WI
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781442467439
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers
  • Publication date: 10/22/2013
  • Edition description: Book and CD
  • Pages: 40
  • Sales rank: 135,554
  • Age range: 3 - 6 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 11.30 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

John Lithgow

John Lithgow is the New York Times bestselling author of I Got Two Dogs; Mahalia Mouse Goes to College; Marsupial Sue Presents: The Runaway Pancake; I’m A Manatee; Micawber; Marsupial Sue; The Remarkable Farkle McBride; and Carnival of the Animals. An award-winning actor, he has starred on stage, film, and television. He performs concerts across the country and has recorded the CDs Farkle and Friends, Singin’ in the Bathtub, and The Sunny Side of the Street. Visit John at

Leeza Hernandez is an illustrator whose art has been featured in magazines, newspapers, and books, including Never Play Music Right Next to the Zoo, Dog Gone!, and Eat Your Math Homework. She is the recipient of the Tomie dePaola Portfolio Award from the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. In middle school, Leeza chose the flute to play for the school orchestra, but was handed a cello instead. Leeza lives in central New Jersey with her family of musical mammals.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted November 22, 2013

    highly recommend

    My 2 !/2 year old great nephew wouldn't let his parents stop reading it!! Loved it!

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