About the Holiday
This week we honor the zookeepers and aquarists who care for the animals in our nation’s zoo and aquariums. Not only do they see to the animals’ feeding, housing, and health needs; maintain the facilities; and educate guests, zookeepers and aquarists also help scientists conduct research that helps them learn more about how to protect and preserve the world’s varied species. To celebrate today, take a trip to your local zoo or aquarium or visit the website of a zoo far away and learn about the animals there.
One Blue Gnu
Written by Danna Smith | Illustrated by Ana Zurita
Feeling lonely at the zoo and with a new cellphone from an accidentally dropped box in hoof, one blue gnu calls two white sheep and gets a party started. The sheep call three orange apes with an invitation, and they in turn call “four red pandas in the sun” who “agree a party would be fun.” The invitation calls and texts get passed along to more and more animals at the zoo until a sleepy pig calls the wrong number, and instead of reaching the hippos, gets the tiger.
Another try alerts those hippos and then, finally, “ten purple birds” receive an invitation. At last, it’s party time with “fifty-five beasts just keeping cool, / splashing around in Blue Gnu’s pool.” Floating and diving, the animals are having so much fun, but who is creeping closer and closer? One hungry-looking tiger! In no time, he’s in the midst of them all—and has a plan: “The tiger calls a pizza man!”
Full and happy and dry, Blue Gnu’s friends decide it’s time to go back to their homes. The animals leave as they came. “Ten purple birds take off in flight. / Nine gray hippos slip from sight.” After each group finds their way home, Blue Gnu is alone once more. But not for too long—another party is in the works.
Danna Smith’s rollicking zoo story combines counting up to ten and back down to one for younger kids and more advanced addition and subtraction for older children with the names of colors, numbers, and animals in her clever rhyming romp that kids will want to visit again and again. And let’s not forget friendship—that’s here in abundance too, as sequence calls go out from one group to another to another to create one enormous bash! The added suspense of Tiger’s intentions is quickly resolved in a surprising and kid-favorite way that’s sure to please readers. Smith’s jaunty cadence is a joy to read aloud, and the non-stop action and exceptional vocabulary will captivate both kids and adults.
Ana Zurita populates this zoo with adorable animals, depicted in vibrant colors set against textured and wildly detailed backgrounds that also accentuate the educational aspects on each page. Readers will love pointing out the colors and patterns of the animals’ clothes, counting the animals in each group, and recognizing ascending and descending numbers set in circles on each page. Humorous details also reward careful searching of the pages, such as a sneaky hippo trying to nab a cupcake and the yak’s “snack.” Tiger’s determined stride and furrowed brow will have kids guessing, but only until the page is turned and the laughs ring out. Eagle-eyed future math whizzes may love discussing fractions as the pizzas are gobbled up, and saying goodbye to each group gives kids another chance to show their growing number skills.
Sure to be an immediate favorite read aloud, One Blue Gnu is a must on home bookshelves and for all classroom and public library collections.
Ages 4 – 8
Amikus Ink, 2022 | ISBN 978-1681527451
Discover more about Danna Smith and her books on her website.
To learn more about Ana Zurita, her books, and her art visit her website.
National Zoo Keepers Week Activity
One Blue Gnu Activities
You’re invited to enjoy these One Blue Gnu activities that let you do everything from designing your favorite pizza to practicing your counting, coloring, writing, and observational skills in these printable activity sheets.
- One Blue Gnu Pizza Color and Count Page
- One Blue Gnu 8-Page Activity Guide (includes coloring page)
You can find One Blue Gnu at these booksellers
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-a-Million
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Picture Book Review