A surprisingly appealing fact-based picture book about animal poo that will be enjoyed by both pre and primary school age children.
What do all the animals in a zoo have in common? There are a few things you might answer and you might be right for most animals but, honestly, the only thing you can guarantee that every single animal does is eat and poo. They all eat and poo and some of the animals poo a LOT. This picture book explores the question that this inevitably raises – what do zoos do with all that poo?
You might think this is a strange topic for a picture book and I’d have to agree. But I suspect that you, like me, are also pretty sure that it’s a subject that will appeal to most children. The unusual structure of the book also means it’s likely to be of interest to a wider age range than normal picture books, including pre and primary age children.
The book is structured to be almost two books in one. Although the ‘story’ consists more of a series of facts about poo rather than a traditional narrative with a clear beginning, middle and end, the large rhyming text at the top of the pages is clearly aimed at the traditional picture book reader. This uses simple language to ensure it is appropriate for this pre-school audience.
If this was all that was on offer, older children might find little to interest them. However, at the bottom of each page there is the second narrative with relevant factual information about the poo of the animal who is the subject of the page. These facts are surprisingly interesting. For example, did you know that some snakes poo only once a year? And a giraffes have four stomachs so they digest food very efficiently, don’t need to eat very much and have really small droppings! I can easily imagine school age children enjoying learning these weird poo related facts and sharing them with their friends.
The highly stylised pictures are bold and brightly coloured with animals that can be easily recognised and quite a lot that are impressively appealing for pictures of poo. Given the subject matter, it must’ve been a challenge for illustrator, Allison Black, to include the required variety, pace and interest for a successful picture book but she has managed admirably.
My only minor quibble with this book is that it’s easy to spot its American origin (the named reference to USA zoos is an obvious giveaway) and there’s at least one reference that will need to be explained to British children. (That a ‘yard’ is a ‘garden’).
Overall, you wouldn’t expect a book about poo to be as appealing – but it is!
Date: March 2019
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children’s UK