Hi there... This is the first page of the Letter "Z" in an alphabetical list of children's books reviewed on ReadThatAgain.com... All these books are also listed by Author in another section of the site.

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Kids Books -- "Z" By Title
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Written by Quentin Blake
Illustrated by Quentin Blake
(Orchard, 1998)

A very funny book about a young couple who get a baby -- delivered in the mail -- and have great fun with it until they start to have second thoughts when it begins getting less cute, transforming into a series of ess-than-pleasant animals. The clever metaphors for various childhood phases are witty and well-rendered: a screeching vulture for a collicky infant, a toddler as a rampaging miniature elephant, a fire-breathing dragon for the "terrible twos," and -- ultimately -- a shaggy, formless beast standing in for a teenage boy. This book, in the pacing of the text and the look of the art, clearly bears the stamp of Jules Feiffer's best work of the 1960s and '70s, and the humor is clearly intended for the amusement of parents and other adult readers... But little kids will like it too: the free-flowing artwork, the fantastical premise, and the main character's silly-sounding name all conspire to make this a fun little romp that will work on multiple levels for readers of all ages. Even if kids don't "get" that the fearsome zagazoo is a normal human baby, they'll still enjoy the story. (A)

"Za-Za's Baby Brother"
Written by Lucy Cousins
Illustrated by Lucy Cousins
(Candlewick, 1995)

The mastermind behind the "Maisy" empire plies her hand at sibling relations and comes up with this cheerful, pro-baby winner. Using very simple text and her trademark bold, simple artwork, Cousins shows a little zebra (of indeterminate gender) named Za-Za anticipating the birth of the new baby, being excited when it comes, and then feeling neglected when all the time and attention goes the baby's way. Za-Za starts to get really bummed out about the situation (and you'll feel sorry for him/her, too!) until Mama Zebra suggests that Za-Za play get a hug from the baby, instead of waiting for one from her. That works. Za-Za discovers the baby is fun to play with, and when it finally oges to sleep, Mama and Daddy actually do have time for stories and hugs. If you just want to pump in positive messages, while still acknowledging some of the problems a new baby can bring, this is a very good book. Nice, loving family, as well. (A)

Written by Mem Fox
Illustrated by Candace Whitman
(Mondo Publishing, 1996)

A nice animals-in-the-zoo story which also functions as a daddy book, since he takes the kids to the zoo. The text isn't Fox's strongest work, but overall this is a very colorful, appealing book, with bright artwork and a lively pace. One page is troubling, as it refers to how one baby animal "got a smack"... It takes a while to figure out that she meant a kiss and not a spanking... Other than that, this one's okay. (B-)

Written by Joelle Jolivet
Illustrated by Joelle Jolivet
(Roaring Brook Press, 2002)

A spectacular, deluxe-size book with eye-popping animal illustrations that will immediately draw kids of all ages into its spell. Each giant-sized two-page spread features a different zoological theme -- beasts that have horns, animals with feathers, critters that like the cold, etc. -- with beautiful woodcut-style pictures of a couple dozen or so animals, each identified by name. Indeed, it's a classic, old-fashioned natural history book, brilliantly simplified and given a kid-friendly twist. Yeah, sure I know these kind of taxonomies are out of date in the scientific community, but they sure do make for compelling reading. (And when they make a book about DNA comparisons that has equal visual appeal, let me know...) Seriously, though -- your child will love this book. It's awesome. (A)

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