The Great Zoo Hullabaloo! (Mark Carthew, illus by Anil Tortop, New Frontier)
This is Mark Carthew and Anil Tortop’s first collaboration, though both bring extensive backlists in their respective areas. The Great Zoo Hullabaloo! is an energetic account of missing animals who, it turns out, would rather play instruments and celebrate the birth of a new baby roo than hang around in the zoo. It is imaginative in a way that will appeal to younger children (a mix of matter-of-fact and make-believe), though may not hold the attention of more advanced readers or listeners, as the story is fairly simplistic. It is faintly reminiscent of a more earnest and less humorous Hazel Edwards or Craig Smith title. Slightly unpredictable meter and rhyme make the narrative more doggerel than verse, but internal echoes, alliteration and assonance help allay frustration this might bring to adults reading aloud. Young audiences will connect with the oddly childlike zookeepers Jack and Jess, rendered in Tortop’s perky, cartoonish style. The pages are saturated and bright, and filled with movement and contrast (such as the twirling flamingo feather motif as the humans track the animals), yet not cluttered. Visual perspectives are varied—the birds-eye view of the zoo on the opening pages, or of the party towards the end, for example, offers plenty to look at.
Anica Boulanger-Mashberg is an editor/writer and works at the Hobart Bookshop