Friday, 26 October 2012

Zoo Girl by Rebecca Elliott (Lion Children's Books)

Oxford-based Lion Press were kind enough to send us a lovely bundle of books to review. We've previously reviewed Rebecca Elliott and Clemency Pearce's wonderful "Fragoline" (which is also in our Halloween Top Ten, by the way!) so I was intrigued to see Rebecca's other work.

Zoo Girl is the touching, bittersweet and utterly beautiful tale of a young girl in an orphanage. She is lonely, she doesn't have any friends but in a flash of inspiration she finds her way into the local zoo - and discovers a whole host of animal pals to snuggle up to.

The beauty of this book is how the illustrations are so wonderfully done, that the text can be kept to a bare minimum. Just one or two words per page (which, by the way, also means it's a fantastic book for early readers who love to spell out and speak words as they're learning to read). One or two very well chosen words that are capable of putting across such a strong emotional message in tandem with the illustrations.

Something happens as you read Zoo Girl. It's almost as if the whole world around you turns its volume down to 1 or 2 from its usual blaring '11' setting. If I had to describe it, it's the same thing that happens after a heavy snowfall - it's so utterly absorbing that you feel like you've been snuggled in a beautiful warm blanket, and even though the book starts off quite starkly with some fairly strong (and sad) moments, it will make you very happy by the end (and like me you'll probably feel like bursting into tears).

Very, very highly recommended.

Charlotte's best bit: Oh my, without a doubt, the little girl cuddling up with the lovely snuggly warm tigers

Daddy's favourite bit: The end (I won't spoil it) but oh I so nearly blubbed like a baby.

(Provided for review by Lion Children's Books)