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Lions & Tigers & Whales, Oh My!

Before you head out the door, be sure to visit the American Zoo and Aquarium (AZA) website for a searchable database of AZA accredited zoos and aquariums.

I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean I'm the Biggest Thing in the Ocean
Ages: Infant
Author: Kevin Sherry  
Penguin Putnam Inc./Dial Books for Young Readers, $16.99 (Hard Cover)   

A cheerfully confident giant squid, pictured in extreme close-up on the cover and the opening page, floats through the ocean comparing himself, size-wise, to all the other animals he encounters: shrimp, clams, crabs, jellyfish, turtles, an octopus and even a shark. All in all, a storytelling treat plus a good choice for newly independent readers who will appreciate the clear picture-support as well as the repetitive vocabulary and sentence structure.

Simms Taback's Safari Animals Simms Taback's Safari Animals
Ages: 2 - 5 yrs.
Author: Simms Taback   Illustrator: Simms Taback  
Blue Apple Books, $9.95 (Hard Cover)   

Sometimes simple is the hardest thing of all. The text of this blocky little book follows a precise pattern: "Who am I? I have big feet. I have a l-o-n-g nose. I am an elephant." The sentences appear one after another as the page unfolds, quadrant by quadrant, to reveal a large picture of the animal in question. Bold black outlines set against a flat green background and just a hint of grass, create a winsome elephant that fills the page with his stately gray presence. Perfect for introducing zoo animals or for making predictions, this will work beautifully in toddler story hours as well.

Life-Size Zoo Life-Size Zoo
Ages: 3 & Up
Author: Teruyuki Komiya   Author: Kristin Earhart   Illustrator: Toyofumi Fukuda  
Seven Footer Kids, $17.95 (Hard Cover)   

From the endearing content pages to the Can You See That invitation to explore the extraordinarily detailed life-size photos, young readers are immediately drawn to this book of remarkable design. The book's allure is punctuated with enormous foldouts of a giraffe, an elephant, and a rhinoceros. Each of the twenty animals, (twenty one if you count the elephant calf) photographed at Japan's premier zoos, is identified with its name (common and scientific), sex, and age. Right-page borders are illustrated with brief animal facts.Not to be missed.

MarcoPolo Ocean
Ages: 3 & Up
MarcoPolo Learning,

MarcoPolo Ocean is designed to introduce children to the ocean and its eco-system as they discover life on a coral reef, 30 species of fish and marine mammals, and build and pilot a boat and a submersible vehicle.

Curious George Hide and Seek Zoo Game Curious George Hide and Seek Zoo Game
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Wonder Forge Inc., $19.99

In this game, players take turns listening to the walkie-talkie for instructions, drawing cards to help solve problems around the zoo, and when prompted, don an animal mask and play a quick round of hide-and-seek. Children learn to take turns, follow directions and playfully solve a problem. The game includes a game board, an electronic walkie-talkie, four sturdy animal masks, and laminated game cards

I Feel a Foot! I Feel a Foot!
Ages: 4 - 8 yrs.
Author: Maranke Rinck   Author: Martijn van der Linden  
Boyds Mills Press, $16.95 (Hard Cover)   

Readers have only to compare the tiny foot of the tortoise juxtaposed beside the gigantic toenail of an elephant on the cover of this visually striking book to understand that this story will be a study in both contrasts and commonalities. Based on a folktale known to most children as "The Blind Man and the Elephant," this version uses a bat, an octopus, a bird, and a goat as the other actors in the old drama where each animal explores the huge creature only to return with the belief that it is merely a much larger version of itself.

Animal Tales: Raccoon, Bear, and Coyote Animal Tales: Raccoon, Bear, and Coyote
Ages: 4 - 10 yrs.
Plain Tales Inc., $14.95 (CD)   

Beginning with "Lotor on His Own" (the story of a young raccoon barely old enough to leave its home), suspense builds as this fledgling creature struggles to become an adult. "Osa's Moving Day" describes a bear's den-building adventure. The final story chronicles Hazard (a coyote) as he deals with both his own fierce hunger and his loyalty to the other hungry members in his pack. Loaded with plush details about the habitat, feeding customs, and survival behaviors of the bear, coyote, and raccoon, these stories have solid appeal. These three exciting presentations are learning and listening treasures.

If Anything Ever Goes Wrong at the Zoo If Anything Ever Goes Wrong at the Zoo
Ages: 5 - 7 yrs.
Author: Mary Jean Hendrick   Illustrator: Jane Dyer  
Harcourt, Inc./Voyager , $6.00 (Paperback)

Young Leslie is infatuated with the animals at the zoo and her offer to take them all in "if anything ever goes wrong" has surprising and surreal consequences. Beautifully illustrated scenes offer humor and delight for young readers.

Mother to Tigers
Ages: 5 - 8 yrs.
Author: George Ella Lyon   Illustrator: Peter Catalanotto  
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing/Richard Jackson Books/Atheneum, $16.95 (Hard Cover)   

This excellent biography tells the story of Helen Frances Theresa Delaney Martini, the first woman keeper in the history of the Bronx Zoo - who raised twenty-seven baby tigers as well as innumerable other zoo babies.

Shel Silverstein's Shel Silverstein's "Underwater Land"
Ages: 6 - 12 yrs.
Olympia Records, $17.98 (CD)   

Here, begging to be learned for maximum sing-along enjoyment, are wildly witty songs about clams and barracuda, minnows and sharks, cuttlefish and octopi, fish tails and "soupy, gloopy" fish guts. When it comes to smart and funny family albums, this is the catch of the day.

Magic Tree House #40: Eve of the Emperor Penguins Magic Tree House #40: Eve of the Emperor Penguins
Ages: 6 & Up
Random House/Listening Library, $14.95 (CD)   

In order to save Merlin the Magician, Annie and Jack must travel to Antarctica to find the fourth secret to happiness. Throughout their adventure, Annie and Jack learn about the history of Antarctica, the dangers of volcanoes, and the species of penguins. They learn valuable life lessons along the way, including simple but critical rules, such as: "Never touch wildlife." Most importantly, Annie and Jack learn the necessity of hard work to render results.

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