Dogs aren’t the only animals who are a human’s best friend. How about a tiger or a polar bear?
In Rebecca Elliott’s Zoo Girl, a lonely orphan is left behind on a field trip to the zoo. That’s all right, though, because the animals are only too happy to take her in. When the zookeepers discover her, she finds another kind of family.
This is a gentle story, a lullaby of a book. Rhymes of one or two words per page are simple and soothing, neatly conveying the girl’s feelings. The illustrations, though, really show you.
The colors and lines are sharper than in books like Just Because and Sometimes, in keeping with the girl’s initial loneliness and the wildness of the zoo. Those lines do a lot; Elliott’s facial expressions remain some of my favorites. From the animals’ whiskered curiosity to the adults’ worried frowns to the girl’s sadness and smiles, Elliott proves that a line is a powerful thing. I just love the picture of the polar bear balancing her on his feet. She has such total joy on her face, and the bear looks surprised and delighted to see her so happy. The family album frames on the animal scenes are the perfect touch.
For anyone who’s felt unloved or lonely, Zoo Girl is a cute sweet dream.