SO. My dear friend and fellow bibliophile, Jaclyn, has a knack for sniffing out perfect,
unowned-by-me books for my kids, and she showed up at church yesterday bearing Good Night, Gorilla by Peggy Rathmann for our own gorilla. (Her genius selections for the boys will come up in future reviews, you may be sure.) I usually wait to review books until I've lived with them for awhile, but we're all already in love.
The text is sparse, but the illustrations can really carry it. And I say that as a person who loves words considerably more than I love pictures. Rathmann does a brilliant job of depicting a zookeeper's weary frame, hunched over and tip-toeing around the zoo, checking in on each animal and telling him or her goodnight. He remains unenlightened about the fact that the gorilla stole his keys and is freeing each animal that the zookeeper visits. A trail of animals follow our worn-out zookeeper into his house and make themselves comfortable in his bedroom. When, none the wiser, the zookeeper's wife bids him goodnight, she gets 7 responses from the various creatures. Perhaps my favorite spread depicts a dark room with just her startled, wide-open eyes. I won't reveal everything, but will say that the last page highlights the gorilla snuggled between husband and wife in bed, and there's something endearingly familiar about that situation.
I really love a picture book that has text that is memorable or brief enough (or both!) that a child can feel that he is "reading" a favorite book independently. This book showed up in our lives yesterday and my two boys have already got it down. The fun, detailed illustrations make for some great talking points, as well. (How did that mouse on pages 1 and 2 manage to retrieve the high-hanging banana he's holding on pages 3 and 4? Does anyone recognize the stuffed toy in the elephant's cage? etc.)
An older (5 and up?) child might be bored by this one, but if you have little guys, it's definitely worth a read!