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Mr. Peek and the Misunderstanding at the Zoo Hardcover – May 11, 2010
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From Publishers Weekly
In Waldron's debut, published in the U.K. in 2008, Mr. Peek the zookeeper finds his uniform jacket much too tight one morning, and his disgruntlement almost spoils everyone's day. You're getting very fat, he tells himself, and a nearby hippo looks aghast, thinking he's talking about her. The elephants hear him grumble, Look how wrinkly you are, and the giraffes get paranoid at his muttering, None of the animals even like you. When Mr. Peek discovers he has mistaken his son's green jacket for his own (which fits just fine), his mood lifts. He strolls through the zoo a second time, speaking in brisk affirmatives and the animals sigh with relief. Waldron, whose digital caricatures and landscapes suggest fastidiously colored-in pencil doodles, pictures Mr. Peek as a lanky, mustachioed John Cleese type. Mr. Peek plods at first, then silly-walks with glee. Although he is clownish, both his bad and good attitudes are contagious. While Waldron's comical story may have kids repeating Mr. Peek's favorite expression of dismay—Oh, poop!—it also serves as an excellent reminder to practice optimism in words and deeds. All ages. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
From School Library Journal
Kindergarten-Grade 2—Poor Mr. Peek thinks he has suddenly gained a tremendous amount of weight when he puts on his zookeeper jacket and a button pops off. As he makes his morning rounds, he complains to himself about how fat and wrinkled he is. "Oh, woe is me! You're getting very fat," he despairs aloud. "None of the animals even like you!" he mutters as he passes the giraffes. He is so sorry for himself that he does not notice that the zoo animals are worried because they think he is talking to them. Luckily, he returns home to discover that he had inadvertently switched jackets with his son. Feeling better now that his clothes fit, Mr. Peek makes his rounds again, this time reassuring himself (and the relieved animals) that everything is fine. Waldron's digital-media illustrations humorously convey the alarmed expressions of the animals while the quirky font and creative text placement reinforce Mr. Peek's stream-of-consciousness muttering as he wanders through the zoo. Pair this with Peggy Rathman's Good Night, Gorilla (Putnam, 2002) for a fun storytime about clueless zookeepers.—Martha Simpson, Stratford Library Association, CT
(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
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Top Customer Reviews
One ordinary morning, like every other morning, Mr. Peek dons his very official looking green zookeeper jacket. Except this morning, the jacket stretches tightly across his shoulders and a button sproings right off the front. Oh, this is not a good start to Mr. Peek's day. He tries to tell himself "it's only a button" but his thoughts go downhill from there. Mr. Peek starts to lament how heavy he has become, how the animals are probably all making fun of his girth, and how he's getting too old and wrinkly to do this job.
Mr. Peek doesn't realize it, but his shrinking jacket and negative attitude is affecting the whole zoo. Each time he makes a derogatory comment about himself, the animals in each section of the zoo assume he's talking about them! The hippo thinks she's too heavy, the bear is positive he stinks and the elephant is hyper aware of her deep wrinkles. The crocodiles are nervous, the penguins don't want to eat and the giraffes believe none of the other animals like them. Mr. Peek is wreaking havoc on the zoo, albeit unintentionally.
On his rounds, Mr. Peek stumbles across his son, Jimmy, wearing a very large green jacket. Why, he hasn't hasn't gained too much weight, but simply donned his son's much smaller jacket! Greatly relieved, they swap jackets and the zookeeper retraces his steps through the zoo, murmuring uplifting statements. Once again, the animals overhear and are overjoyed to hear his positive words.
Awesome illustrations and a really humorous misunderstanding that takes on a life of its own make this a darn funny book. Mr. Peek is totally oblivious that he's alarming the entire zoo, mumbling along about his own insecurities. He's got the animals all worked up and doesn't have a clue. I particularly love the alarmed expressions on their poor faces as their keeper rattles on about their physical limitations and character flaws. It really is a toss up as to which is better - the illustrations or the story. Win-win for the readers!
Personally, I think the illustrations are ugly. They are similar to Marc Boutavant illustrations, but while those are beautiful, these are chunky and disproportionate. Mr. Peeks swollen, distended hands freak me out. However, the picture of the entire zoo inside the front and back covers is quite nice.
As an alternative zoo-themed story, I would recommend "A Sick Day for Amos McGee" instead of this one.