Review Blog

Mar 29 2017

Midnight at the zoo by Faye Hanson

cover image

Five Mile Press, 2016. ISBN 9780763689087
(Age: 4-7) Recommended. Faye Hanson's beautifully created, intricately detailed and vibrant colourful illustrations add to the delight of reading Midnight at the zoo.'
Max and Mia's class are off to the zoo for an exciting adventure. They've studied the map presented at the beginning of the story and hope to see the ring-tailed mongoose, the red pandas and the flamingos.
In their loud animal print bedroom with the 'Explorashon HQ' tent, the brother and sister prepare for their special day. They are definitely animal fans; everything in their bedroom has a pattern or design, from their backpacks to pyjamas. In the morning, Max and Mia 'trundle like elephants to the car, cling like monkeys' to say goodbye to Mum and even nibble their early snacks like lemurs.
Twenty excited children and one wide-eyed teacher enter through the zoo gates filled with excitement. 'But not the flick of a tail or swish of a whisker can be seen.' After a very disappointing day, the teacher leads her class towards the exit. Without a headcount, eighteen students and the teacher board the bus, whilst two are left behind. Max holds his sister Mia's hand and with a torch from his backpack, they look for a way out. In front of them, a locked wooden door appears; what are they going to do?
As the clock strikes midnight, they are welcomed into another world filled with animated creatures, fiery fireworks and fantastic scenes. They discover flouncing flamingos, mischievous monkeys, lanterns illuminating laughing lemurs and kingly cats. Max and Mia's fantastic night-time adventures end with a comforting sleep nestled in the fur of a majestic lion and lioness. Daytime comes and as they reunite with Mum, they cannot wait to share their amazing adventure.
Fay Hanson's lively story Midnight at the zoo is filled with fun alliteration and with charming descriptions. At times, the blue text is hard to read as it blends in to the black of the night scenes. Teachers reading this to a class may question the ratio of one adult to twenty excitable children and the idea that she did not know about Max and Mia's problem! The story ends with a magnificent midnight map of the zoo, fountains of fireworks, colourful costumes and dancing animals are illuminated.
Rhyllis Bignell

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