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The Midnight Zoo Hardcover – September 13, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

This somber yet not hopeless fable set during WWII offers a haunting portrait of families, human and otherwise, torn apart...Lindgren Award-winner Hartnett combines powerful prose with magical realism to heighten this setting and develop the personalities of the animals that the boys meet, who begin to speak after another round of bombing.
—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

This beautiful and sad book will stay with readers long after the story is done.
—School Library Journal

About the Author

Sonya Hartnett is an internationally acclaimed author of many award-winning novels, including THURSDAY'S CHILD, WHAT THE BIRDS SEE, STRIPES OF THE SIDESTEP WOLD, THE SILVER DONKEY, THE GHOST's CHILD, BUTTERFLY, and the Michael L. Printz Honor Book SURRENDER. She was the winner of the 2008 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, the world's largest award for lifetime achievement in children's and youth literature. Sonya Hartnett lives in Australia.

Andrea Dezsö is a visual artistwho works across a broad range of media including drawing, cutpaper, embroidery, sculpture,installation, animation, and large-scale murals. She is Assistant Professor of Art at Hampshire College in Amherst, MAand lives in Amherst and New York City.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Candlewick; First Edition edition (September 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076365339X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0763653392
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.8 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #813,242 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By S. Power TOP 500 REVIEWER on September 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover
The Midnight Zoo by Sonya Hartnett is a magical tale of three children who find a zoo in the midst of a war torn country. Andrej, a Roma was forced to run with his brother and his baby sister after Nazi's capture his community. At the zoo they find that the animals can talk and they share their stories.

This book felt more like real literature than most middle grade books do. It has lots of big concepts that provide lots of potential for real thought and the prose was beautiful. I do wish that there had been more of an overreaching plot to move the story along, however the stories of all the animals and the boys were engrossing and very well written. There is some massive vocabulary in this book (along with beautiful descriptions) making this a good book for advanced readers. However the book is short enough that it is finished quickly.

Appropriateness: This book has a few difficult war scenes and asks questions that will require some higher level thinking skills (or help from an adult) to fully comprehend. I would recommend this book to readers 10-14 with it appealing equally to boys and girls.
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Format: Hardcover
The story is set in Eastern Europe during World War 2. Two Romani gypsy children, carrying a baby in their backpack, have been on the run for weeks after soldiers ambushed their settlement. Fearing for their lives, they travel under the cover of darkness, scrounging food where they can. One night they arrive in a bombed out village, deserted apart from a few animals trapped in a zoo. Over the course of the night, both the boys and the animals will share their stories of how the war has affected them and also the inhabitants of the now-deserted village.

This is officially a young adult book, but the language and themes are quite adult and therefore it would suit older readers. It's a moving story and beautifully written - one of those books where you find yourself re-reading passages for the sheer pleasure of the words. For children, it introduces concepts such as the persecution of the Romani people during World War 2 and the impact of war on innocent bystanders. It is more fantastical and less plot driven than a book like The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, but would probably appeal to a similar audience. I also found it reminiscent of Yann Martel's writing. A slim, but magical book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
(Although I tried not to give away too much of the book, there are possible spoilers.)
I chose to read The Midnight Zoo by Sonyia Harnett and illustrated by Andrea Offerman because of my interest in the history of the time period. Despite my interest in the time period, this book is very far removed from what I normally read. However, it was a very interesting story, a quick read, and once I started reading it I could not stop.
The Midnight Zoo is about a set of Gypsy siblings that are lost in Europe during World War II. The siblings are Andrej, 12, Tomas, 9, and then Wilma who is still a small baby. The siblings were told by their mother to run away because of danger at their camp. So the two boys took their sister and ran as far as they could. They come upon a bombed out town that has a very small zoo in it. All of the animals in the zoo have been left in their cages and the people of the village are no longer there to care for them. After another instance of airplanes bombing the town the animals begin to talk to the boys and share their stories. The boys return the favor. However, the boys realize that they also need to leave and Tomas does not want to leave the animals behind. The rest is for the reader to find out.
Andrej and Tomas are very dynamic and round characters. At the beginning of the story, they were frightened boys who were concerned about the survival of themselves and their sister. However, as they get to know the animals they begin to realize that they were not the only ones affected by this war and they were not the only ones left to fend for themselves. The antagonist in this story is the leader of the invading army.
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Format: Hardcover
The book takes place around World War II, and is about two Romani kids and their baby sister Wilma. They go to a wrecked up town and find an untouched zoo with talking animals. The animals were running out of food, and the kids try to help them.

I think that other kids will like this book -- young and old (grown up) -- because it a very exciting book.

My favorite part was when the animals start talking after the bombs drop, because it was a very exciting part, especially because Andrej thought the lion talking was his mother.

I think that basically 3rd grade and up might like it - girls and boys would like your book!

Review by Young Mensan Kevin, age 8
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Format: Hardcover
Fiction set during the Second World War often takes a turn for the depressing, though not without good reason most of the time. It simply was not a pleasant period for the world at large, and the effects of the war touched lives everywhere. Parents and educators are advised to be careful choosing WWII literature for their children, for while they deserve to learn more about this era of history, some of them could be deeply disturbed by some of the horrible things that were done during that time.

"The Midnight Zoo" is a slightly different take on this era of history, giving a light fantasy element to an otherwise bleak era of history. And while some readers might find a "historical fantasy" jarring, I found it helped this book, and could help children and adults alike better understand what happened and how it effected even the humblest of lives.

This book centers on three gypsy children -- twelve-year-old Andrej, nine-year-old Tomas, and baby Wilma -- who managed to escape an attack that wiped out their Romany encampment. After weeks of roaming and living on their own, they take shelter in an abandoned zoo near a bombed-out village. To their surprise, the animal inhabitants of this zoo talk, and have their own stories to share about the war and their captivity. As the night wears on the boys tell their story, and many of the animals have a chance to share their stories, as well as how the humans' war has shaken their lives despite them having no part in it. And ultimately, both the children and the animals share a faint but fervent hope for rescue.

While a short read, this book is beautifully written, with vivid yet dreamlike descriptions that bring to mind Peter S. Beagle or Ray Bradbury.
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