Thursday, March 16, 2017

Mitford at the Hollywood Zoo (review)

**This post contains affiliate links that I may make commission from; however all opinions are my own**

I know I told you I would have amazing posts coming for you this week, but Lucy is pretty sick right now so the time I would be spending crafting thoughtful posts for you have instead been spent reading while Lucy snuggles on my chest. She is absolutely pitiful when she's sick so I just can't put her down. You understand.

Instead, I have a review for a children's book for you today and then tomorrow I have one for a really amazing non-fiction book about a woman who had a stroke. Stay tuned!

Mitford at the Hollywood Zoo - Donald Robertson

Mitford is a giraffe. But not your everyday, live-on-the-savanna giraffe. Mitford works at Cover magazine, in one of the biggest cities in the world! 

But now another city needs Mitford, and soon the chic giraffe is surrounded by palm trees and super-famous celebrities! It would be great to sunbathe by the pool, but it's the day of the Academy Zoowards and these movie stars must have the most fabulous dress or tux ever
Can Mitford deliver everyone's fashion demands on time?

Anytime I get a children's book to review I always rely on my own children as the audience to give me thoughtful opinions, but I also like to use my first and second grade friends at Bryant Elementary. My own children go there, I was the PTO President for five years, I have spent countless hours as a classroom volunteer in every grade, and I even worked for a year in the library as an assistant. The staff at this school put such a high emphasis on reading and I absolutely love it. If I could nominate this school, the collective of amazing teachers, the curriculum, everything for any kind of award, I absolutely would. I cannot give them high enough praise and it's so great that they are welcoming to community readers and always game to weigh in on a new book. 

The other great thing is that these students are always so enthusiastic to be read to. I have never had a classroom audience be afraid to tell me what they really think about a book, so I knew that they would be my perfect guinea pigs on this book. I recently read to all three second grade and all three first grade classrooms, split into two groups, and we read the book. They are learning how to write their own opinions so this was good practice for them. 

Let's talk about some of the things they didn't love about the book: 

  • Hard words: (some of the words would be difficult for a newly independent reader)
  • They didn't fully understand the play on real celebrity names or have enough knowledge about the fashion industry to understand what Mitford's job was and translate that into knowing that it's somebody's actual job in "real life". 
Alternatively, the students really liked: 
  • The illustrations! Every class had more than half of the students enjoy the fashion sketch-like illustrations, and how silly the animals were "dressed up". 
  • They loved seeing a rhino covered in butterflies, a whale painted, animals walking down the sidewalk- the whimsical parts of the story made them laugh. 
Grown up thoughts: 
  • My immediate thought is that while the book is cute and funny now, fast forward a few years and the celebrities mentioned will be out of the lime light (or perhaps just less popular) and it won't be relevant as much. 
  • Most kids are not going to catch the celebrity name puns and unless you want to point them out every time and then explain what show they are on or what song they sing, that's maybe more for the adults, but that's really the charm of the book, isn't it? So it's hard to say how popular this will be among the 6-8 age group. 
  • The theme was supposed to be stay positive and follow your dreams, but I thought it was more along, think outside of the box, be a hard worker, and follow your dreams. 
  • I always judge a children's book by my top criteria: is this a book I would buy as a child's birthday gift? A "I was thinking about you" gift? Probably not. Not that I wouldn't buy it, but it certainly wouldn't be one of my top choices or even something I'd rattle off on a recommendation list off the cuff. It was cute, it was funny, but it's forgettable. 
If you have a kiddo that loves interesting illustrations, animals, fashion/celebrity, check this book out and let me know what you think: 

Donald Robertson also wrote Mitford at the Fashion Zoo, which is his first, and that might be a cute companion book to purchase at the same time: 

I promised the kids at school that I would donate my copy of Mitford at the Hollywood Zoo to their school library so they could check it out but also so all of the students would have access to it, so it can be found in their school library now!

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