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What's New at the Zoo?

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The zoo is overloaded! The population has exploded! And the animals want out—NOW! What’s New at the Zoo? (from the hit Broadway show Do Re Mi) perfectly captures the grumblings and rumblings of all the animals, and kids will delight in the hilarious lift-the-flap surprises of acclaimed illustrator Travis Foster’s spot-on comic creations. Includes an introduction by Tony-Award-winning actress, Phyllis Newman, who was married to Green until his death in 2002.
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The zoo is overloaded! The population has exploded! And the animals want out—NOW! What’s New at the Zoo? (from the hit Broadway show Do Re Mi) perfectly captures the grumblings and rumblings of all the animals, and kids will delight in the hilarious lift-the-flap surprises of acclaimed illustrator Travis Foster’s spot-on comic creations. Includes an introduction by Tony-Award-winning actress, Phyllis Newman, who was married to Green until his death in 2002.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Actress Phyllis Newman provides an introduction and afterword to this spirited picture book, based on the lyrics of a song written by Newman’s late husband, Green, and his longtime collaborator, Comden, for the 1960 Broadway musical Do Re Mi. The song rhymes animals’ body parts and exclamations, as they vie for space in an overcrowded zoo: “Ouch! ‘You’re stepping on my pouch!’ to the bear said the kangaroo./ Oh! ‘You’re stepping on my toe!’ to the kangaroo said the gnu.” The chorus, “Let us out! Let us out! Let us out! The zoo is overloaded,” is delivered with flair on die-cut, foldout pages. Sans music, the lyrics sound overly repetitious, but bold, colorful typography gives them pizzazz. Foster’s (The Feet in the Gym) raucous cartoons highlight the animals mentioned in the verse (a moose, stepping on a pelican’s bill, in turn has its own snout stomped on by a goose) by portraying them in color, while the rest of the expressive (and quite cranky) menagerie can be seen in gray outlines in the background. It’s a lively portrayal of a zoo gone wild. Ages 4–up. (Sept.)
Children's Literature - Barbara L. Talcroft
From the Broadway musical Do Re Mi (1960) with lyrics by a brilliant songwriting team, this number was originally sung by Nancy Dussault and the "Animal Girls." Foster's wild, exaggerated cartoon animals make amply clear the New York Times reviewer's description of the show as "feverishly paced." Sprawled over the pages, screaming and yelling, the zoo animals intertwine to protest overcrowded conditions as they shout, "Let us out!" Poster-bright colors and two foldout pages add to the excitement, while Comden and Green's clever rhymes (the words form part of the explosive page designs) will make it fun for kids to join in the demonstration as elephants, seals, striped pythons, tigers, kangaroos or even a moose or flamingo. A comic zookeeper endures the indignity of being tied up by a blue gorilla, ending the whole number with an exhausted, "How are things with you?" Adolph Green's widow Phyllis Newman adds an afterword describing how she and Green loved visiting the Central Park Zoo and how long it took for the zoo to be transformed into a space with more freedom for the animals. If readers want to hear the song, the original cast CD is available, though it might be more fun to find the sheet music and let kids perform it themselves—singing and acting this rowdy song would certainly be a terrific preview or follow-up to a zoo visit. For those curious about a Broadway musical, Harriet Zieffert and Elliot Kreloff's boffo Lights on Broadway (Blue Apple, 2009) will win applause. Reviewer: Barbara L. Talcroft
School Library Journal
K-Gr 3—The animals in this appealing book cry, "Let us out!/Let us out!/The zoo is overloaded…/The population has exploded!" The words are actually the lyrics of a song from the 1960 Broadway musical Do Re Mi. The story was inspired by the overcrowding at the Central Park Zoo before the days of natural zoo habitats. "'Ouch! You're stepping on my POUCH!'/to the bear said the kangaroo./'Oh! You're stepping on my TOE!'/to the kangaroo said the gnu." With fun lift-the-flap details and tummy-tickling rhymes, this book will appeal to fans of slapstick humor. The cartoon illustrations really bring the silliness to life. The only thing that is missing is the score, but some performances of this song can be found online. A great read-aloud with an interesting history and musical connection.—Jasmine L. Precopio, Fox Chapel Area School District, Pittsburgh, PA
Kirkus Reviews

Can't all the animals just get along? Lucky for readers, no!

An initial double-page spread shows dozens of disgruntled animals—walrus and crab and monkey and camel and others—crammed too close and uttering expletives. Then, bouncy lyrics of the title song by Comden and Green (from the musical Do Re Mi) take over, comprising the entirety of the text. It begins, " 'Ouch! You're stepping on my pouch!' to the bear said the kangaroo." Elsewhere in the zoo, the elephant and the gnu are getting into it, the seal is swallowing kippers (after flapping his flippers) and the goose steps on the neck of the giraffe. "Let us out! Let us out!" becomes the repeated chorus that is interspersed between the depicted mishaps (verses). The porcupine steps on the chops of the wolf as the swine steps on his quills. Do the animals eventually escape? Yes; in a riot...of hues. Foster's ingenious illustrations feature antic cartoonish animals in an explosion of color against a background of gray lines wildly depicting other animals, for a 3-D, retro effect. A handful of pages have flaps with surprises underneath, a special treat for very young readers. And the lyrics of the Tony-winning duo scan perfectly. Green's widow, Phyllis Newman (of Broadway and TV-game-show fame) adds an appealing introduction and afterword.

Fresh and vintage at the same time; an accompanying CD would have made it perfect. (Picture book. 3-7)

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781609050887
  • Publisher: Blue Apple Books
  • Publication date: 9/13/2011
  • Pages: 36
  • Sales rank: 976,906
  • Age range: 4 - 8 Years
  • Product dimensions: 8.80 (w) x 11.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Adolph Green and Betty Comden wrote lyrics for many of the most succesful songs in Broadway and Hollywood history. They were winnners of multiple Tony Awards, were inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1980, and received a Kennedy Center Honor in 1981. The author lives in New York, NY.
Travis Foster studied at the Ringling College of Art and Design in Sarasota, FL., where he graduated with a degree in illustration. Travis's work has been seen on magazine covers, posters, greeting cards, book jackets, and in toy designs. His clients include Target, Disney, Amazon, Sony and The Wall Street Journal. Travis lives in Nashville, TN with his wife and four children.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 3 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 24, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    UPDATED REVIEW: Nearly a year ago, I received a digital review c

    Nearly a year ago, I received a digital review copy of this book from Blue Apple Books through the Edelweiss Above the Treeline program. Unfortunately, the file didn't work properly and when I tried to contact the publisher I did not get a reply. Alas, I couldn't review it, though I did talk about my wish that I COULD review it in blog post. Luckily, Travis Foster read it and so graciously offered to send me a copy so I could review it for real. So nice!

    My Take:
    Even if the digital file had worked, I don't think it would have done the book justice. The hardcover edition has large lift out flaps with illustrations that are both bold and subtle at the same time. It's really best experienced as a print book. Actually one of my favourite things about the book is how the illustrations are done in layers, with shiny line drawings in the background to compliment the full-colour illustrations in the front. It adds to the feeling of the zoo animals being frantically crowded, without making the pictures appear messy or overwhelming. But that detail would have been lost in a digital edition, I think.

    Magda's Take:
    My daughter Magda enjoyed the illustrations and the words from the song lyrics (more on that later) but overall she found it a "sad book about a sad subject." I asked her why she thought it was so sad and she said, "Because the animals are being so mean to each other, stepping on each other's necks and tails, but it's because they're so crowded. If the zoo wasn't crowded the animals wouldn't be so unhappy. Did they not have bigger zoos for them? It's so sad!"

    A Little Background:
    Although the book made Magda a little sad, I think she got the point of the story. The song, "What's New at the Zoo?" is from the musical Do-Re-Mi (which you may remember as the original source of the song, "Make Someone Happy"). According to the afterword by Phyllis Newman (wife of late composer Adolph Green), the cramped conditions of the Central Park Zoo was the real inspiration for the song, and she was delighted when--decades later--the zoo was transformed into a more spacious and comfortable environment for the animal residents. It was changed in response to criticisms of the living conditions of zoo animals and changing attitudes toward zoos in general. While this specific song may not have been the catalyst for such shifts, it's nice to know that some of these changes have been made. And it's also nice to see a children's book that, while still fun and silly, encourages children to think critically about the way we treat animals in our care (an element that is often missing from the thousands and thousands of farm and zoo themed children's books).

    You can read my full review on my blog, Cozy Little Book Journal.

    Disclaimer: I received a digital galley of this book free from Blue Apple Books through Edelweiss (Above the Tree Line). I was asked to write an honest review, though not necessarily a favourable one. The opinions expressed are strictly my own. (I also received a print copy from the illustrator. Again I was under no obligation to write a favourable review, or any review at all, nor was I otherwise compensated for my time or opinions).

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    Posted January 4, 2013

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    Posted September 27, 2011

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