The way to the zoo by John Burningham

cover image

Walker Books, 2014 ISBN 9781406348408.
(Age: 4+) Highly recommended. Picture book, Imagination, Animals, Zoos, Sleeping. Born in 1936, Burningham has thrilled his young audiences with imaginative stories and illustrations for over fifty years. The way to the zoo brings a fresh approach to going to bed as the young girl Sylvie, spies a door in her bedroom wall that she has not seen before. Going through it leads to another door, and beyond that the zoo. Here all the animals are intrigued and she takes a little bear back to her bedroom with her. He sleeps the night in her bed and in the morning she takes him back to the zoo, remembering to close the door to her bedroom. The following night she brings another bear back to her bedroom, the following night, three penguins, and then a tiger and her cub. After than a flock of birds come in, but when a larger animal, an elephant wants to come in, it cannot fit. But baby rhino can and the next morning she sleeps in and rushes to get the rhino back to the zoo, forgetting to close the door before leaving for school. Catastrophe happens, and Mum's words when she comes home make a laugh out loud comment on the whole story.
This imaginative tale will be a delight to read to children before bedtime, or in a class where animals and bedtime is under discussion, or simply to enjoy a lovely story well told, with illustrations that cause mirth and recognition. The pictures of the animals in bed with Sylvie are charming, and I loved the image of the rhino sleeping on the floor with its legs crossed, and the flurry of mischievious animals in mum's lounge room.
Burningham's mix of subtle humour, imagination and the everyday make this book most endearing to all who read it.
Fran Knight