Zoo Girl by Rebecca Elliott (Link to InfoSoup)
Told in just a few words per page, this book tells the story of a little girl who doesn’t have a family. At the orphanage she is lonely and has no friends. Then the children visit the zoo and suddenly the little girl feels at home. She is left behind at the zoo and the animals discover her. They befriend her and she lives with them for awhile until the zookeepers discover her curled up with the tigers. The little girl does not want to go, and the book ends with a happy ending where the little girl is adopted by the zookeeper couple. The story is a simple one, told in only a few words, but the sense of belonging and being wanted remains a powerful message.
Elliott’s story is really told in the illustrations rather than the words. Her art is a rich mix of texture, patterns, drawing and photographs. The rather simply drawn characters and animals live in a world made dazzling. Even the air itself seems to have its own feeling and shape. The elephant has wonderful wrinkles, the tiger has plush fur, and the penguin’s feathers are swirled.
Also, in the orphanage, the mood is not grim. It is specifically this little girl who does not have friends and feels alone. The other children are merry and playing with one another. That changes the message quite a bit too.
Perfect for toddlers because of its brevity, this book is a very friendly way to talk about adoption. Appropriate for ages 2-4.
Reviewed from library copy.